Professor Cathy Yandell knighted in the French Ordre des Palmes Académiques

September 27, 2019
By Leander Cohen '22

Cathy Yandell, the W.I. and Hulda F. Daniell Professor of French Literature, Language, and Culture at Carleton College, was knighted in the French Ordre des Palmes Académiques on Tuesday, Sept. 24. The ceremony was officiated by Guillaume Lacroix, the consul general of France in Chicago.

A national order of France, the knighthood is bestowed upon distinguished academics who “contribute actively to the expansion of French culture in the world.”

Cathy Yandell“My first thought on receiving the news of the knighthood was that everyone in French and Francophone Studies should have this same recognition, because my colleagues are absolutely stellar,” Yandell said. “I will also say that the knighthood is simply a drop in the bucket among the honors and accomplishments of the humanities faculty at Carleton, not all of which are heralded in public forums such as this one. I am humbled by this honor, but especially grateful to my friends and fellow-learners at Carleton (including students, staff and administrators) for helping make this the best possible place to teach.”

Yandell grew up near the Navajo Nation reservation in New Mexico, where she was exposed to a multitude of languages. Her first encounter with French was during a performance of “Frère Jacques” by a visiting choral group. After studying French literature, cultural history, and theory as an undergraduate student, Yandell contemplated a career in the Peace Corps before choosing to pursue master’s and doctorate degrees in French literature from the University of California, Berkeley.

Yandell teaches a variety of courses in Carleton’s department of French and Francophone Studies. This year, she is teaching courses on banned books and gender and sexuality in the Francophone world before directing the Paris off-campus studies program in the spring. Her research centers on Early-Modern and Renaissance France and its relevance to today’s world.

Yandell has written and co-edited several volumes, including “Carpe Corpus: Time and Gender in Early Modern France,” “Vieillir à la Renaissance (Growing Old in the Renaissance),” and “Memory and Community in Early Modern France.” Her current book project addresses the question of “learning through the body,” or Renaissance ways of understanding the world through bodily images, references and paradigms.