Jan Gross came to Grinnell as an Instructor in the French Department in 1977, received her Ph.D. from The University of Michigan in 1980 with a dissertation on the theater of Molière, became Associate Professor in 1985, Professor in 1995, and Seth Richards Chair in Modern Languages in 2001. She teaches all levels of French language, literature, and culture, with a specialization in theater and the French-speaking world (Africa, the Maghreb, etc.).
Her most recent publications on contemporary Algerian playwrights living in Paris resulted in bringing three of the authors to Grinnell as visiting authors, and in the translation (with Dan Gross) of a novel about 9/11 (The Last Night of a Damned Soul, Grove Press 2004). Interdisciplinary interests in film, gender, race and ethnicity inform her publications and teaching, such as “May 68: A Culture of Revolt,” “Multiethnic France” and her Tutorial “Americans and African-Americans in Paris: Through the Looking Glass.”
She served as Chair of the Humanities Division (Executive Council, Personnel, and Budget), Chair of Humanities, Personnel Committee (2 terms), Personnel Appeals Board, French Department Chair, first Chair of the Women’s Alliance Committee (formed to represent all women employees), among others. She helped to develop programs within major college grants: Mellon (oral communication focus), Pew (foreign-language teaching, interdisciplinary courses, international study, and foreign-language across the curriculum), and Fund for Excellence (Center for International Studies).