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Sarah Nelson

Associate Professor of French and French Section Coordinator


308A Administration Building



Mailing Address

School of Global Studies
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3174
Moscow, Idaho 83844-3174

Sarah Nelson is an associate professor and section coordinator of French.

  • Ph.D., French, University of Wisconsin, 1997
  • M.A., French, University of Wisconsin, 1987
  • B.A., magna cum laude, French, Saint Olaf College, 1983

Sarah Nelson discovered her love of languages and cultural exchange when, at the ages of six and eleven, she lived with her family in Norway and Austria. In addition to French, she has studied German, Norwegian, Mandarin, Latin, Italian, Spanish and a little Wolof. She has spent a total of five years living, studying and working in France, Belgium and Switzerland. Since 2011, she has built knowledge of Francophone West Africa with travel, study and faculty-led programs in Senegal and Togo.

Before coming to the University of Idaho in 1999, Nelson taught at Bates College and Bowdoin College, as well as at the University of Wisconsin, where she earned her M.A. and Ph.D. Her research focus has broadened from the French Renaissance to the early modern period, but her interest in questions of gender has remained constant. At the University of Idaho, she has served as president of Phi Beta Kappa and has taken an active part in university initiatives on general education, institutional diversity and undergraduate advising.


  • Gender in early modern French literature
  • Literary translation
  • Contemporary French culture and society
  • Contemporary Senegalese and West African culture and society


  • Hortense and Marie Mancini. Memoirs. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008).


  • “Marie Mancini Writing for Her Life.” Early Modern French Studies, 30 Mar. 2021,
  • “The New Type of Senegalese under Construction: Fadel Barro and Aliou Sané on Yenamarrism after Wade,” African Studies Quarterly 14.3 (2014): 13-32.
  • “Making a Case: Mmes de Courcelles, Mazarin, and Villedieu in their own defense,” Women in French Studies (2011): 22-33.
  • “The Poet's War on Mothers: Iconoclasm in Agrippa d'Aubigné's Les Tragiques,” Cincinnati Romance Review 20 (2001): 91-103.


  • Biography in Early Modern France, 1540-1630: Forms and Functions, by Katherine MacDonald, Biography 32.4 (2009).
  • Agrippa d'Aubigné, ou les misères du prophète, by Samuel Junod, Renaissance Quarterly 62.1 (2009).
  • La Justice de Dieu: Les Tragiques d'Agrippa d'Aubigné et la Réforme protestante en France au XVIe siècle, by Elliott Forsyth, Renaissance Quarterly 59.4 (2006).

  • Nelson has begun a multi-year project of publishing online the correspondence of 17th-century Italian-French noblewoman Marie Mancini. The project has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, by ORED-RISE funding from the University of Idaho, by support from the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences, and by a fellowship from the University of Idaho Center for Digital Inquiry and Learning (CDIL). CDIL faculty member Olivia Wikle, as well as graduate and undergraduate assistants from the University of Idaho and the University of Wisconsin, are team members on the project. It will eventually become a collaborative digital scholarship project open to public participation in the transcription and translation of the more than 900 letters related to Marie Mancini that are held in the Colonna family archive at the library of the Benedictine monastery of Santa Scolastica in Subiaco, Italy.
  • Nelson and Dean Sean Quinlan of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences are preparing a scholarly English edition of the Marquis de Sade's Philosophy in the Boudoir, to appear in 2023 from the University of Chicago Press.

  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Stipend, 2020
  • ASUI Outstanding Faculty Award, 2016
  • Idaho Humanities Council grant, 2015
  • Paris-Ile-de-France Chamber of Commerce and French Embassy grant, 2015
  • Idaho State Foreign Language Teacher of the Year (IATLC), 2011-2012
  • Ping and CIEE Fellowships for participation in CIEE International Faculty Development Seminars, Senegal, 2016 and 2011
  • Mellon Summer Institute in French Paleography Fellowship, 2010
  • UI Award for Excellence in Interdisciplinary or Collaborative Efforts, 2010
  • UI CLASS Key Fund Grant, 2009
  • University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) Faculty Development Grant, 2008
  • UI Seed Grant, 2004
  • Friends of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries Grant, 2004
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute Fellowship, 2003

  • Since October 2010, Nelson has worked with her colleague in French at WSU, Sabine Davis, to organize the annual Palouse French Film Festival at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre in Moscow.
  • In September 2015, Nelson organized and helped to present the Idaho Humanities Council-sponsored “Making Change Film Forum: Bootstrapping Social Change from Idaho to Africa,” featuring invited guests from Senegal: rapper Thiat and social media director Denise Sow, founding members of the influential social movement Y en a Marre.

School of Global Studies

Physical Address:
332 Administration Building

Mailing Address:
School of Global Studies
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3174
Moscow, ID 83844-3174

Phone: 208-885-6179

Fax: 208-885-5221


Web: School of Global Studies