Swimming in a Multitude of Drops

Rebeiz mireille

Office Hours: Mireille Rebeiz, Associate Professor of French & Francophone Studies and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies

by Tony Moore

Associate Professor of French & Francophone studies and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies Mireille Rebeiz earned her Ph.D. in francophone studies from Florida State University and is finishing her second at Penn State Dickinson Law. Her first book, "Gendering Civil War: Francophone Women’s Writing in Lebanon," was published in 2022, and her second, on Hezbollah’s crimes in Lebanon from 1982 to present day, is underway.

As someone who examines the (likely byzantine) connections between law, gender, sexuality, oral history and trauma through the lens of armed conflicts, you’re bringing together a lot of (likely complex) worlds. Why is Dickinson a good place to get the next generation of thinkers and leaders conversant in the myriad facets of your world(s)?

Dickinson is a place where faculty have the freedom to explore different research topics. I’m not put in a box, and interdisciplinarity is not only encouraged but valued by faculty and administrators. This is important because it allows us to follow our hearts and passions, which translates into better teaching experiences. It also means that students are better prepared to face various challenges. We live in a global world, and interdisciplinarity is vital to excel.  

You’re finishing your second doctorate, this one in international law, terrorism and human rights. Learning about these topics in depth would probably either make people motivated to make change or just generally nervous about the state of things. What drives your passion?

I must admit that I am both hopeful and nervous about the future, but these mixed feelings are what pushes me to move forward, to teach, research and write. I’m not one to sit around and complain. I love being in a classroom and making a difference. I believe in the healing power of the humanities and education in general. There are times that I feel down, that I’m only one drop in an ocean full of challenges, and “yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops” (David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas). 

People often misquote Gandhi as saying “Be the change you want to see in the world,” but regardless of what he actually said, your work, op-eds and activist approach make me think you embrace that ethos. How does the combination of your academic and personal interests serve as an effective vehicle for you to be the change?

I consider teaching and writing forms of activism. I see my classes on the Middle East, Arab women, veterans, war and trauma (and other topics) as a venue to educate and fight stereotypes and ignorance. In my heart, I hope this will help create a generation of educated and open-minded leaders, ones that will run for elections and vote, strive to fight inequalities, innovate and be the change we all dream of.


Published October 5, 2023