The Germaine Brée Lecture, held annually or biannually, honors Germaine Brée (1907-2001), the internationally renowned scholar of twentieth-century French literature often credited with the popularization of French studies in the United States. Brée was a Professor of French and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin from 1960-1973. She directed the Institute in 1964-1965 and left a generous bequest to the Institute to sponsor lectures and conferences of wide interest to the campus and community.
Born in France, she taught in Algeria from 1932-1936. During World War II, she drove an ambulance, headed a hospital ward, and did intelligence work for the French Resistance in France and Algiers. She also taught at Bryn Mawr College (1936-1952), New York University (1953-1960), and Wake Forest University (1973-?). The lecture series is funded by a generous bequest to the Institute for Research in the Humanities from Germaine Brée
Brée wrote and lectured extensively on such writers as Marcel Proust, Andre Gide, Albert Camus, and Jean-Paul Sartre. Widely known as the "Dean of French Letters," she served as president of the Modern Language Association in 1975. Among her many books are Marcel Proust and the Deliverance of Time; Gide; An Age of Fiction: The French Novel from Gide to Camus (with Margaret Guiton); Camus; Camus and Sartre: Crisis and Commitment; and Women Writers in France.