Department of International Studies: Languages and Cultures

Dr Alexandra Kurmann

Alexandra Kurmann Lecturer, French and Francophone Studies
BA (VUW), MA (Kent), PhD (Melb)

Macquarie University
North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia



Alexandra Kurmann is a Lecturer in French and Francophone Studies. She completed a PhD in Comparative French and German Literature in 2014 at the University of Melbourne and her first book entitled Intertextual Weaving in the Work of Linda Lê: Imagining the Ideal Reader, was published in 2016 with Lexington Books. Her monograph reveals the intertextual relationship between the contemporary French-Vietnamese author, Linda Lê, and the author's self-chosen precursor, the post-war Austrian poet-turned-writer, Ingeborg Bachmann. It argues that Lê replaces an intratextual paternal reader that haunts her texts with an imaginary literary forebear of the European exile writing tradition. Rereading Lê through the refocused lens of her relations with Bachmann reveals the evolution of a feminist resistance derived from early interpretations of an Antigonean rhetoric in Bachmann's novel-cycle. Concurrently, hybridity discourses in Lê's exile writing open out a third space of enunciation, which resolves issues of female subjectivity in her precursor's texts.

Alex's new book project brings into dialogue Vietnamese literatures from the English and French speaking worlds. Comparative analysis of literary production from Vietnamese authors in France and the USA, subsequent to the respective colonization and occupation of Vietnam, as well as in Australia, Canada and the Pacific, examines literary trends across this diverse, multi-lingual community within the framework of Vietnamese diasporic literature studies.

Alex's research interests lie in Comparative and World Literature. In particular she works on Vietnamese diasporic writing from a global perspective, and more broadly on Postcolonial Francophone literature, European exile and Asian migrant writing. She would welcome the opportunity to supervise research projects that relate to any of these fields.

Post-graduate Supervision

Primary Supervisor PHD Thesis
Sarah Martin: "La visibilité de l'écrivain francophone et du traducteur littéraire: approches humoristiques."

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Research areas

  • Comparative Literature: English, French and German Language Literature
  • World Literature
  • Diaspora Literature Studies
  • French and Francophone Studies

Research interests

  • Exile and Migrant Writing 
  • Vietnamese Diasporic Literature: France, USA, Australia, and Canada
  • Intertextuality
  • Contemporary Women's Writing

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Kurmann, Alexandra (2016): Intertextual Weaving in the Work of Linda Lê: Imagining the Ideal Reader. After the Empire: The Francophone World and Postcolonial France. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.


Book Chapters

Kurmann, Alexandra (2016): "Returned to Sender: Writing Back to a Literary Precursor", in Véronique Duché, Tess Do, and Andrea Rizzi (eds.) Genre, text and Language, Mélanges Anne Freadman. Paris: Éditions Garnier., pp. 423-51.

Kurmann, Alexandra (2015): "The Making of a Literary Case: Ingeborg Bachmann as a Case of Antigone in the Work of Linda Lê," in Damousi, Joy, Birgit Lang and Katie Sutton (eds.) Public Cases: Case Studies and the Dissemination of Knowledge. London: Routledge.pp. 2013-18.

Kurmann, Alexandra & Tess Do (2015): "Post-War Reunification: The Doppelganger as a Unifying Body in the Exile Literature of Linda Lê", in Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen, New perspectives of the Vietnam War: Essays on the War, the South Vietnamese Experiences, the Diaspora and the Continuing Impact. Jefferson, NC: McFarland., pp. 151-168.

Kurmann, Alexandra (2013). "Foreclosed Fatherhood: A Decade of Psychoanalytical Experimentation in Linda Lê's Fiction", in Rye, Gill, Amaleena Damlé(eds.). Experience and Experiment: Women's Writing in France 2000-2010. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 125-39.

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Journal Articles

Kurmann, Alexandra & Tess Do (Forthcoming 2018): "Children on the Boat: The Recuperative Work of Postmemory in Short Fiction of the Vietnamese Diaspora," Comparative Literature.

Kurmann, Alexandra (Forthcoming 2018): "Aller-retour-détour: Transdiasporic Nomadism and Navigating Literary Prescription in the Work of Kim Thúy and Thanh-Van Tran-Nhut," Australian Journal of French Studies "Contemporary Mobilities and Migrations" .

Kurmann, Alexandra (2016): "What is Malina? Decoding Ingeborg Bachmann's Poetics of Secrecy," Women in German Yearbook: Feminist & Gender Studies in German Literature and Culture (32), 76-94.

Kurmann, Alexandra (2016): "Internal Dialogue as Collective Conflict Resolution in Linda Lê's Exile Writing," Essays in French Literature and Culture "Conflict" (53): 13-28.

Kurmann, Alexandra (2015): "From Hungry Ghost to Phallic Mother: Linda Lê's Doubling of the Vietnamese Ancestor in French Exile," Skepsi VI, (Winter), 66-78.


Kurmann, Alexandra. "An Interview with Linda Lê." (19 November 2010).


Responsible for the profile on Linda Lê on the Centre of Contemporary Women's Writing website at the Institute of Modern Language Research, London, UK.

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Conference Papers

Kurmann. Alexandra. "No Place Like Home? Displacement and Migration in Fiction," paper at Macquarie Minds Showcase with panellists, Drs Stone, Kilpatrick, Lee and Teo, Macquarie University, December 13-14 2016

Kurmann. Alexandra. "Children on the Boat: The Child Motif in French and Francophone-Canadian Short Fiction of the Vietnamese Diaspora," paper at 23rd Annual Conference of the Australian Society for French Studies: "Mobilities and Migrations/Les flux migratoire" with Tess. Do, Universities of Adelaide and South Australia, December 7-9 2016 

Kurmann. Alexandra. "Aller-retour-détour. Diasporic Mobility in Contemporary Vietnamese-Francophone Short Fiction,paper in panel, "Rethinking Women's Mobility into the 21st Century,at 23rd Annual Conference of the Australian Society for French Studies: "Mobilities and Migrations/Les flux migratoires," Universities of Adelaide and South Australia, December 7-9 2016 

Kurmann. Alexandra. "Boat Narratives in French, Canadian and Australian Short Fiction of the Vietnamese Diaspora," paper at Rencontres: A Gathering of Vietnamese Voices of the Diaspora with Tess Do,University of Melbourne, December 1-2, 2016

Kurmann. Alexandra. "Austrian Literary Spectres in the 'maison hantée' of Lê's Intertextual Oeuvre," paper at Linda Lê after the Millennium, Institute of Modern Language Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London, June 17 2016

Kurmann, Alexandra. "Retraced, Returned and Reclaimed:  Three Franco-Vietnamese Cinematic Accounts of Indentured Labour on French Soil," paper at Humanities Research Centre Conferece: "Global France, Global French," Australian National University, Canberra, October 21-23 2015

Kurmann, Alexandra. "Representing Denied Transnational Spaces in the Language of the Other: Indentred Indochinese Workers' Stories Adapted from Scholarship to Film," paper at International Studies Research Workshop: "Crossing Cultures:  Translation, Adaptation and Transnational Spaces in Global Cinema," Macquarie University, Sydney, April 16 2015.

Kurmann, Alexandra. "In Dialogue with the Self: The Avoidance of Intersubjective Conflict Resolution in the Work of Linda Lê," paper at the 22nd Annual Conference of the Australian Society for French Studies: "Conflict, Dialogue and Representation", RMIT, Melbourne, December 2014

Kurmann, Alexandra. "La (grand)-mère phallique du lieu d'arrivée dans la littérature de l'exil de Linda Lê", paper at Congrès 2013 de la Fédération canadienne des sciences humaines; Association des professeures de Français des Universités et Collèges: Écrvain.e.s Asiatiques, Victoria University, Canada, June 2013

Kurmann, Alexandra. "Antigone in Exile: The French Case of Ingeborg Bachmann", paper at Cases and their Publics: Interdisciplinary and Transnational Perspectives on the Case Study Genre, University of Melbourne, Australia, September 2011.

Kurmann, Alexandra. "Abandoned Fathers, Absent Mothers: Tracing Psychoanalytical Developments in Linda Lê's fiction", a paper at A Decade of Women's Writing in France: Trends and Horizons 2000-2010, 10th Anniversary Conference of the Contemporary Women's Writing in French Seminar, the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, London, United Kingdom, October 2010.

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Awards and Fellowships

"ARC Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Fellowship Mentoring Scheme"
Early Career Female Researchers 
University of Melbourne. February 2016.

"Faculty of Arts Emerging Scholars Scheme"
Macquarie University. November 2015.

Winner: "Women in German Annual Dissertation Prize"
The Coalition of Women in German, USA. October 2015.

"The 2013 Richard Samuel Prize"
Awarded to the most outstanding postgraduate student in German Studies by the Dean of Arts at the University of Melbourne. January 2014.

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Research and Development Grants

"Macquarie University New Staff Grant" [$15, 000]
Project title: "Comparative Perspectives on the Vietnamese Diaspora: Literary Voices in the Australian Context". November 2015.

"Faculty Publication Subsidy Scheme Grant" [$1000]
International Studies, Macquarie University. October 2015.

"Faculty of Arts Early Career Research Fellowship Grant" [$5000]
Macquarie University. July 2015.

"Faculty Learning and Teaching Research Grant" [$4900]
Pilot project title: "Development of writing skills in French language through reading and writing workshops in literary studies." April 2015.

"Faculty Research Travel Scheme Grant" [$800]
Faculty funding to attend the Australian Society for French Studies annual conference in Melbourne. November 2014.

"Melbourne Abroad Travelling Scholarship" [$3000]
Funding issued by the University of Melbourne to attend the Contemporary Women's Writing in French Conference in London and to interview the writer Linda Lê in Paris.
October 2010.

"Australian Postgraduate Award" [$22,000 per annum]
Full funding from the Australian Federal Government for 3.5 years of doctoral studies.
July 2009 to 2013.

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