Faculty Bio

Thomas Parker

Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies

Thomas Parker specializes in early modern literature, philosophy, and cultural studies. He lectured at Princeton while earning his Ph.D. at Columbia University, and is currently an Associate Professor at Vassar.

His teaching interests lie in developing intercultural competence through language and critical thinking. To this end he teaches intermediate French through French and Francophone children’s literature. Advanced course offerings include French Utopian Adventures; Early Modern Philosophical Fictions; Poetry, Theater, and Songs for the Five Senses. Seminars include A Taste of Terroir: French Methodologies for Experiencing the Earth and Sugar, Slaves, and the French Atlantic

His first book Volition, Rhetoric, and Emotion in the Work of Pascal, published by Routledge in 2008, is a monograph that illuminates the rhetoric and philosophy used by Pascal to convert readers to Catholicism. His new book— Tasting French Terroir: The History of an Idea (University of California Press, 2015)— explores the origins and significance of the French concept of terroir, demonstrating that the way the French eat their food and drink their wine today derives from a cultural mythology that developed between the Renaissance and the Revolution. The book received Gourmand's Special Jury Prize for Best Wine Book of 2015, and is forthcoming in a French translation next year in the Presses Universitaires de Rennes' "Tables des Hommes" collection.

His newest project, Subnature and Culinary Culture, examines the history of foods that have been marginalized and reappropriated by different cultures throughout history. It grows out of a transdisciplinary project involving a series of dinners, culinary reenactments, lectures, and public humanities events that Professor Parker organized with colleagues at Duke University in 2014. 

Professor Parker is a regular contributor to the blog Wonders and Marvels.