Anna Gural-Migdal, PhD, MA, BA


Faculty of Arts - Modern Languages and Cultural Studies Dept



Anna Gural-Migdal is Professor Emerita of French Literature and Cinema in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta. Prior to being hired at the U of A, she was Assistant Professor in the Department of French Studies at York University (Toronto, Canada) and Lecturer in the Département de littératures et de langues du monde at the Université de Montréal.

Born in Fontainebleau, France, Gural-Migdal has studied at the Université de Paris IV (France) and the Université de Montréal (Canada). In 1991, she received her Ph.D. from the Department of French Studies at the Université de Montréal. Her thesis, entitled "Fonction et Fonctionnement de la métaphore dans Le Ventre de Paris d’Émile Zola," was awarded a Mention Très Bien by the Jury.

Gural-Migdal has received a number of grants, fellowships, and distinctions, including SSHRC and Heritage Canada grants, Harriet Winspear-Sheila Watson Fellowship, Killam Research Fund, SAS Research and Conference grants from the University of Alberta, Research Grant from York University, and Bourse d'excellence from Université de Montréal. She also received a grant from the Italian government and the Università di Urbino (Italy) to continue her studies in Semiotics.

A renowned specialist in Émile Zola and worldwide Naturalism, Gural-Migdal conducts research in 19th-century French literature, semiotics, literary theory, and film theory. Her research underscores the value of interdisciplinary studies, particularly the relationship between literature and cinema. She speaks five languages fluently.

Gural-Migdal has published more than a hundred articles on Zola, Huysmans, Mirbeau, Artaud, Duras, francophone literature of Quebec and the Maghreb, popular culture, in addition to Italian, French, and Canadian cinema. Her book Le Cinéma de Paul Tana. Parcours critiques (in coll. with Filippo Salvatore), was published in 1997 (Montréal: Éditions Balzac). She is the editor of a collection of essays entitled L'Écriture du féminin chez Zola et dans la fiction naturaliste / Writing the Feminine in Zola and Naturalist Fiction (Berne: Peter Lang, 2003; 2nd ed. 2004). With Robert Singer, she co-edited a collection of essays entitled Zola and Film: Essays in the Art of Adaptation, with a Foreword by Brigitte Émile-Zola, which has come out with MacFarland (2005), in New York. In 2006, she completed with Carolyn Snipes-Hoyt the book Zola et le naturalisme en Europe et aux Amériques: généricité, intertextualité et influences published by Edwin Mellen Press. Her monograph entitled L’Écrit-Écran des Rougon-Macquart. Conceptions iconiques et filmiques du roman chez Zola appeared in 2012 with Presses Universitaires du Septentrion. In 2020 she published in collaboration with Sándor Kalái, Émile Zola et Octave Mirbeau: Regards croisés (Paris: Classiques Garnier). In 2021 her first poetry book, Déserts noirs, has come out with L'Harmattan, in Paris. She is presently completing a monograph, Naturalisme et horreur dans la fiction d'Octave Mirbeau, to be published in France.

Gural-Migdal served as President of the Association internationale Zola et Naturalisme (AIZEN) and Editor of its SSHRC-funded scholarly journal, Excavatio, from 1999 to 2019. Twenty volumes of Excavatio have been published under her editorial direction. She was also Organizer-in-Chief of fifteen International conferences on Émile Zola and Naturalism.

Her promotion of Zola and naturalist studies across the world has received major international recognition. In July 2013, she was knighted in the Order of the Academic Palms by France’s Minister of Education. In 2017 she was nominated to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. A book titled Re-Reading Zola and Worldwide Naturalism (eds. Carolyn Snipes-Hoyt, Marie-Sophie Armstrong, and Riikka Rossi, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013)) was published as a tribute to her research achievements and for sustaining the dynamic international research group, AIZEN, for 20 years.


Gural-Migdal's current work is based on two major themes. On one hand, her research focuses on exploring the novels of two 19th-century French authors, Émile Zola and Octave Mirbeau, in light of new theories or parameters. This emphasis includes interdisciplinary approaches, which lead, in her case, to the analysis of the visual aspect of Zola and Mirbeau’s naturalist texts with relationship to cinema – and, more specifically, horror film.

On the other hand, her research continues to deal with cinema, particularly contemporary French cinema. She is examining its neo-naturalist aspects through a discussion of a new cinema of the extreme body, highlighting the human being’s primitive instincts and murderous impulses. She considers a film culture that exhibits a provocative naturalism in order to criticize the violence in society. This project opens a new field of research on radical naturalism and its horrific component.


At the undergraduate level, courses taught include: 

  • FREN 297 (Advanced French I)
  • FREN 298 (Advanced French II)
  • FREN 301 (Introduction to French Literary Studies)
  • FREN 310 (Composition, Style, and Expression)
  • FREN 311 (Mystery, Myth, and Supernatural)
  • FREN 445 (Contemporary Cinema in French)
  • FREN 463 (Topics in 19th Century French Literature).
  • FREN 478 (Topics in French Literature and Culture: Pre-Contemporary French Novel)

At the graduate level, courses taught include: 

  • FREN 545 (Contemporary French Cinema)
  • FREN 563 (Topics in 19th Century French Literature) 
  • FREN 599 (French Poetry of and Around Modernism)
  • FREN 627 (Seminar in the French Novel) 

Anna Gural-Migdal is the recipient of the 2013 University of Alberta Faculty of Arts Undergraduate Teaching Award. In 2015, she was nominated to deliver the University of Alberta's Last Lecture. In her nomination, the student wrote: "[Anna] is a fantastic professor. She cares about her students and inspires them to continue discovering the French language outside of class. Her lectures were always captivating and fascinating."