Fabienne Kanor

Fabienne Kanor

Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies. Writer and Filmmaker.
332 Burrowes Bldg
Fabienne Kanor


Ph.D., Louisiana State University
CIFAP, International de Formation Audiovisuelle et de Production
Paris, France
M.A., La Sorbonne, Paris V
M.A. University of Paris North - XIII, Paris, France
B.A., François Rabelais University, Tours, France.

Professional Bio

Born in France to Caribbean parents, Dr. Fabienne Kanor is a Marian Trygve Freed Early Career Professor in the department of French and Francophone Studies and an Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. An award-winning writer and filmmaker, she has directed around 15 movies and published 9 books, including among others D'eaux Douces (2004), Humus (2006), Je ne suis pas un homme qui pleure (2016), Louisiane (2020), La poétique de la cale:variations sur le bateau négrier (2022), a transdisciplanary monography in which she examines the way the experience of the Middle Passage is represented in contemporary literary, cinematographic and artistic productions of Francophone Africa, the French West Indies and the United States. In March 2024, she will release her first play La grande chambre, about 3 displacements: The transatlantic slave trade, the migration from the Caribbean to France and the Sub-Saharan migration to France.

She is the author of numerous academic articles such “Autopsy of a French Black woman” in African Women in Digital Spaces: Redefining Social Movements on the Continent and in the Diaspora, edited by Msia Kibona Clark and Mkuki Bgoya. Tanzania: Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, Spring 2023, or La grande hanchue in Nouvelles Etudes Francophones, Numéro 35.2, Fall 2022.

Awarded by French Minister of Culture Chevalier des Arts & des Lettres, Kanor devotes her career to studying Race and Gender in France and in The French West Indies and West African Migrations in France. An attempt to tell the untold and show the hidden and the forgotten, part of her work deals with the traumatic effects of the transatlantic slave trade on the Africans and African descents. She has translated in French the Zora Neale Hurston’s book Barracoon, the Story of the « Last Cargo » (March 2019) and the new Wole Soyinka’s novel Chronicles from the Land of Happiest People on Earth (August 2023).

With the same desire to fill the blanks of colonial history, and with the partnership of The Museum d’Aquitaine The Foundation for Remembrance of Slavery and The Institut des Afriques, in France, she is currently developing a series of experimental documentaries « Les contes de la cale » related to the transatlantic slave trade and more specifically to the hold of the slave ship. Entitled Et le grand trou noir où je voulais me noyer / And the Great Black Hole Where I wanted to Drawn, the second episode (42’) of her series has already been selected by several film festivals including the festival Cine Africano Tangiers-Tarifa (Morrocco and Spain, May 23), Monde en vues (Guadeloupe, October 23), Ciné Martinique Film Festival (Martinique, October 23). It also did the opening to the French Month for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is at the Museum of Aquitaine (May 23, Bordeaux). In 2022, she was appointed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to participate in the audio guide of the exhibition Fictions of Emancipation: Carpeaux Recast which examines Western sculpture in relation to the histories of transatlantic slavery, colonialism, and empire. Last but non least, she is the author of 3 multimedia performances: Paroles de revenante, Le là d’où je viens, and The Flesh of History.


Francophone Literature (French Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa), Cinema (Fiction and Documentary), Post Colonial Studies, Creative Writing, Women's & Gender Studies, Caribbean & Africa Diaspora in France, Migration Studies, Body Studies.

Seminars (selection)

Le Labo des Imaginaires

In this seminar, I propose to reconcile two approaches: the practice of creative writing and the critical analysis of materials (written and visual) in which the artistic process is revealed and/or dissected. Through a trans-regional and trans-disciplinary approach, we will explore works of varied nature, from French-speaking authors and artists (Africa, Caribbean, Quebec, Pacific, France) for the most part, and English speaking.

L’Afrique des Lumières

This trans-disciplinary seminar is designed to be a return journey – imaginative or real, to Africa-s. Through various lenses and different forms of contemporary works rooted in Africa and in the African Diaspora (films, literature, visuals arts..), we will explore issues of race, immigration, cultural shifts, colonization, identity.

Grande-France/Petites Antilles: Retour, détour, exil et hoquettements

Mainly based on contemporary French and Francophone literature, cinema, visual arts & performance, this trans-disciplinary seminar (literature, cinema, visual studies, performances) will show how troubled and disabling is the relationship between metropolitan France and its two former colonies, Martinique and Guadeloupe, has always been; how this unstable unbreakable relationship inspired authors and artists belonging to these French territories, still under control. We will address topics such as identity, the legacy of slavery, marronage, independence, displacement and migrations. It will include a series of creative writing workshops.

The Middle Passage :Smudges, Shadows and Sequels 

In this trans-disciplinary seminar, with the ethical silhouette of the slave ship’s hold as the starting point, we will examine the protective, emancipatory and curative powers of art. Faced with a memory deficit and the lack of records existing for the history of the slave trade, as it was experienced by the captives, the artists and thinkers we will consider put the hold at the heart of their concerns, or of their sets. It will include a series of creative writing workshops.


  • Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize
  • CIEF Prize
  • The Casa de Las Americas Prize
  • Prix CARBET de la Caraïbe et du Tout-Monde
  • Prix RFO