Cheryl Toman

Cheryl Toman Professor of French, Ruth Mulhauser Professor, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program

Guilford House 207

Other Information

Education: Education: PhD, Interdisciplinary French Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1996) with an emphasis on African Francophone Women Writers. MA, Linguistics, University of Chicago (1990) with an emphasis on African Linguistics, MA, French, University of Illinois at Chicago (1989), with coursework at the Université de Paris III--Sorbonne Nouvelle. BA, Teaching of French and Russian, University of Illinois at Chicago (1987), with coursework at the Université de Paris IV, Sorbonne.

Professor Toman’s area of research is African women’s writing with a special emphasis on authors from Gabon, Cameroon, and Mali. She also has a secondary interest in women in the Arab world, specifically of the Middle East. Her most recent book, Women Writers of Gabon: Literature and Herstory (Lexington Books, 2016) is the first book-length study in English of Gabonese literature. The study discusses the perceived “invisibility” of women writers and focuses on the major contributions of Gabon’s first generation of female authors.

Professor Toman’s first book, Contemporary Matriarchies in Cameroonian Francophone Literature (Summa, 2008) is the first comprehensive text on the history of women’s writing in Francophone Cameroon and concentrates specifically on women’s empowerment using African constructs to interpret tradition.

Toman has also directed five collections of essays, Capital Culture (La Doxa, 2019), Defying the Global Language: Perspectives in Ethnic Studies (Teneo, 2013), a special issue on women, war, and conflict for Women’s Studies International Forum (2009), a volume on women, activism, and the arts for Al-Raida, the journal of The Institute for Women’s Studies of the Arab World (2009), and a collection entitled, On Evelyne Accad: Essays in Literature, Feminism, and Cultural Studies (2007) prefaced by Nawal El Saadawi.
An accomplished translator, Toman has translated several books, short stories, and poetry including the first novel written by an African woman, Thérèse Kuoh-Moukoury’s Rencontres essentielles (Essential Encounters) that appeared in the MLA Texts and Translations Series in 2002. In Spring 2018, Toman’s translation of Justine Mintsa’s Histoire d’Awu (Awu’s Story) was published by the University of Nebraska Press. She has also collaborated on several other translated volumes including Noureddine Aba’s It Was Yesterday Sabra and Chatila with E. Accad (L’Harmattan, 2004), she directed and edited the translation of Alice Endamne’s Afropean (Createspace 2015), and wrote the afterwords for The Fury and Cries of Women by A. Rawiri, translated by Sara Hanaburgh (University of Virginia Press, 2014) and Edna Merey-Apinda’s The Moonlight Tales, translated by Beth Johnston (Createspace 2016).

Toman’s scholarly essays are included in Feminist Studies, Research in African Literatures, Meridians, The French Review, Northwest Review, Marginalia, French Literature Series, Arab Studies Quarterly, International Journal of the Humanities, Dalhousie French Studies, and Women in French Studies, among other publications. She has numerous essays in edited collections on African and Arab women writers, on postcolonial theory, and on littérature-monde and she prefaced the collection of short stories entitled, Entre nous (edited by Edna Merey-Apinda in 2016) which won La Journée du Manuscrit Francophone National Prize for Gabon (sponsored in part by UNESCO).
Her current book projects include a comparative analysis between Malian women’s writing and Wassoulou music and a second study on women writers of Gabon with this latest research focusing on Gabon’s second generation of women writers specifically.

Major Grants:
Fulbright International Administrator Award, Germany (Fall 2019)
Brown Foundation Fellow (Museum of Fine Arts—Houston) in Ménerbes, France (November 2011)
Fulbright Teaching / Research Scholar, Beirut, Lebanon (Spring 2007)

Study Abroad Programs:
FRCH/WLIT 335: Immigration and The Paris Experience
ARAB / WGST / ETHS 349: The Arab World Experience (Jordan)