Thursday, March 24
Anne O’Neil- Henry
Observing the City: Panoramic Literature, Urban Novels and Positivism in 19th Century Paris
Between 1830 and 1848, the period of the July Monarchy, a proliferation of social guides to the city of Paris appeared, as part of a movement known as panoramic literature. Published at a moment of particular urban, social and political upheaval, these guides promised to orient their readers within their chaotic city space. This talk examines both the urban novels and guides to Paris by Paul de Kock, a prolific writer who achieved almost no critical but great commercial success throughout his career. His popular texts share methodological similarities not only with major nineteenth-century novelists like Balzac and Zola, but with early theorists of sociology like Auguste Comte.
Anne O’Neil-Henry is a doctoral candidate in Romance Studies at Duke University, and holds an MA in Spanish from Middlebury College as well. She will defend her dissertation entitled “Parisian Social Studies: Positivism and the Novels of Balzac, Paul de Kock and Zola on March 31, 2011 and will begin a position as assistant professor of French at Georgetown University in the fall.
Wednesday, February 16
Dr. Emmanuel Dongala
Hollywood, Pirated Videos and Child Soliders
Professor Dongala, winner of “best French novel of 2010,” will discuss his personal experience with child soldiers in the Congo Republic during the civil war, which took place from 1997-2000. Starting from a fateful encounter he had with children at a roadblock they were controlling, he will discuss why and how these kids turned into child soldiers. He will explore the impact of Hollywood movies and satellite TV on child soldiers. He will also discuss the current state of ex-child soldiers.
Dongala received a BA in Chemistry from Oberlin College, an MA from Rutgers University and a PhD in Organic Chemistry in France. Dongala returned to Congo and worked as a teacher and dean of Academic Affairs until 1998, when he was forced to leave after a bitter civil war. Helped by his friend the writer Philip Roth, he now lives in the US. He teaches chemistry at Bard College at Simon’s Rock where he holds the Richard B. Fisher Chair in Natural Sciences and leads a seminar in African Francophone literature.
Dongala, who writes in French, has published five novels, a collection of short stories and a play. His books have been translated into a dozen languages. His essays and articles have appeared in major newspapers and magazines including ‘ Liberation’, ‘Le Monde’, ‘The New York Times’, and ‘Transition’. His novel, Johnny Mad Dog, published in the USA in 2002, was selected by the Los Angeles Times Book Review as one of the best books of the year. The film made from the book was released in 2006. His latest novel, (not yet translated)Photo de groupe au bord du fleuve published last April was named “best French novel of 2010” by the literary magazine LIRE.
Wednesday, December 1
Dr. Laurence Mall
Louis Sébastien Mercier ou les Lumières au jour le jour
Mercier’s sprawling Tableau de Paris (1781-89), a fascinating description of pre-revolutionary Paris, can also be read as a a proto-sociological text. Along with most philosophes Mercier criticizes the Ancien Régime’s weak administration and corrupt government, but his interest lies in the very concrete impact this weakness and corruption have on Parisians and their immediate environment. Work and everyday life will be highlighted as two domains where philosophical values, political criticism and sociological insight combine most remarkably.
Dr. Mall is an associate professor of French at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign). She obtained a PhD in French from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of two books on Rousseau. Her current research focuses on Louis Sébastien Mercier’s Tableau de Paris and Le Nouveau Paris.
Monday, November 15
Dr. Stephanie Cox
Immigrant Writing in Quebec and Ying Chen
In this talk, I will propose an overview of Immigrant Writing in Quebec since the 1980s focusing on today’s issues with this categorization. Francophone Asian-Canadian Writer Ying Chen was born in Shanghai and came to Montreal in 1994 and now lives in Vancouver, BC. As the first Chinese writer in Quebec, she attracted a lot of attention and her first three novels have been popular reads in and outside the classroom. The 1990s was a period of social reconstruction following Quebec’s Quiet Revolution of the 1960s which had ushered the deconstruction. The second and last referendum in 1995, issues of language and identity were on everyone’s mind, ear, tongue and pen. Therefore, the immigrant perspective was an eye-opening channel for the québécois society to examine itself, both with critical and sympathetic gazes. Since Quebec society had always identified itself strongly in opposition to the Other, be it the English, the Amerindian, the French and the American, the immigrant gaze reversed its position and inaugurated its role as dominant society. After becoming in icon of Immigrant Writing, Ying Chen made major changes within her writing, thereby risking to lose a portion of her readers but with the aim to avoid the kind of ethnic reading which she felt the categorization of “écritures migrantes” (Immigrant Writing) leads to. Instead of instructing Western readers about the Chinese culture as a cultural ambassador, she invites the reader to meet through the universal experience of exile, whether it be geographic or social.
Stephanie Cox is a Visiting Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Carleton College where she teaches courses on Quebec, Acadia and Louisiana, including “Women of New France” and “Marginality and Renaissance in Francophone North America.” She is the author of “La vie probable” a forthcoming study on the writing of Ying Chen. Her current research focuses on writers from cultures of immigration and diaspora in Francophone North America. In order to establish theoretical connections between authors who are usually studied within their geographic context, she explores the connections between identity construction and the process of writing in works of transnational women writers such as Ying Chen, Linda Lê and Marie-Thérèse Humbert. Searching through psychoanalytic perspectives on migration and exile, she examines internal dynamics through works of those who choose to perform their state of being and whose relationship to the reader also implies an experience of exile. She is the recipient of a Faculty Enrichment Grant from the Canadian Embassy to design a course on “Transnational Writers of Quebec.” Born in France of American parents, her insider/outsider perspective on literature in French has led her to seek in fictional works the quest for transformation through writing. Stephanie also loves teaching language courses and turning students on to the Francophone World through cultural experiences.
Thursday, November 4
From the Page to the Stage: Adapting La Farce de Maître Pathelin
Francine Conley-Scott is a founding member of the Franco-American Theatre Troupe, Le Théâtre de la Chandelle Verte (http://chandelleverte.org). She has appeared in all productions since the company‘s founding, including recent solo works Albertine en cinq temps, and Femmes de lettres / Lettres de femmes. Since 1991, she has written and produced eight one-woman, multi-media plays in English, including, most recently I Swear I Can Fly (2010), directed by Henrik Borgstrom. She is an Associate professor of French at Saint Catherine University in St. Paul, MN.
Dr. Conley-Scott will situate the importance of the farce and discuss our troupe’s methods of adaptation (how we move a text from the page to the stage). She will touch on some of the play’s themes, the challenges we face in interpreting the text, performing diverse roles, and making a fifteenth-century text relevant for students learning French. Finally, in the spirit of the workshops we offer as at troupe, she will involve the audience in a readings/interpretations of a few scenes taken from the play in English and/or French.
Wednesday, September 29
How I’ve Helped Criticism Regress
Pierre Bayard is a professor of French literature at the University of Paris VIII, a member of the French University Institute and a practicing psychoanalyst. He is the author of How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, Who Killed Roger Ackroyd, Sherlock Holmes was Wrong, and a dozen other titles dealing with reading and interpretation at the intersection between literature and psychoanalysis.
The goal of this lecture is to look at the critical methods that Mr. Bayard has developed over the last several years through his essays. He has studied texts from different viewpoints: Literature Applied to Psychoanalysis; Detective Criticism; Enhancement Criticism; Anticipatory Criticism and Incompetent Criticism.
Mr. Bayard proposes to develop these five themes and include the notion of Formal Regression in a text. He will explore how these different forms of criticism can be considered “As Regression.”