Carnegie Mellon University

Michael J. West

Michael J. West

Emeritus Teaching Professor of French and Francophone Studies

Department of Modern Languages
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Education: Ph. D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 1989.


Nearly all foreign language educators will say that they strive to create a student-centered class. Nearly all university-level educators will say that they try to incorporate their research into their teaching. For over 20 years I have been extremely fortunate to work with both highly capable students and highly productive scholar-colleagues. Being student-centered means that I expect my students to teach me something, either through independent research or by providing insights into how they learn French.  My colleagues and I constantly challenge and inspire each other through demonstrations and discussions of new research and new pedagogies. This is a highly talented environment, and it is a both a privilege and a challenge to live and work in this department. All of us are committed to fostering the growth of skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking) while at the same time helping to develop critical thinking and expression (oral and written). Our efforts are focused on the development of different competencies, from the linguistic to the cultural. We take a broad definition of culture ranging from "large-C" culture (literature and fine arts) to more broadly based forms of popular culture (newspapers and magazines, current films, internet media).

  • “Science and Global Learning” co-authored with Indira Nair. Diversity Digest, a publication of the Association of American of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), Spring 2007.
  • "Homm(e)age." Review of D.A. Miller’s Bringing Out Roland Barthes. GLQ, Vol. 3, 1996, pp. 317-326.
  • "Stories and Stances: Cross-Cultural Encounters with African Folktales."Foreign Language Annals, Vol. 28, No. 3, Fall 1995, pp. 392-405.
  • "Cannibals and Anorexics, or, Feast and Famine in French Occupation Narrative." War Stories, Paul Holsinger, ed. Bowling Green, KY: Popular Press, 1992.


  • Fairs of State: The Parisian Expositions Universelles and the Formation of French National Identity, 1855-1937.

Department Member Since 1989