Events

Past Events

Fictions pensives : Rencontre avec Philippe Vilain (02/21/2022)

Philippe Vilain est l’auteur de nombreux romans, tels que Paris l’après-midi (Grasset, 2005, prix François Mauriac), Pas son genre (Grasset, 2011, adapté au cinéma par Lucas Belvaux en 2014), La Femme infidèle (Grasset, 2013, prix Jean Freustié) mais aussi d’essais remarqués comme La Passion d’Orphée (Grasset, 2020). Docteur en lettres modernes de l’université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris III, il est le directeur de la collection « Narratori Francesi Contemporanei » aux Éditions Gremese de Rome. 

Présentation de la conférence de Philippe Vilain: «Cette conférence sera l’occasion de présenter mon oeuvre qui, depuis 1997, s’écrit entre romans – ces variations sur la relation conjugale forment les fragments d’un discours amoureux – et essais critiques – questionnant la littérature contemporaine –, et de porter un regard panoramique sur celle-ci qui, par l’usage et le questionnement de notions épocales – comme l’ “autofiction”, l’“hybridité générique”, la “métacritique” –, ou réactualisées – la Kulturindustrie et le phénomène d’industrialisation culturelle – est peut-être représentative de ces deux premières décennies de la littérature du XXIème siècle. Je m’interrogerai sur l’inscription de mon oeuvre dans le paysage littéraire contemporain, particulièrement sur le rôle de mes romans par rapport à la définition évolutive de la notion d’autofiction et à ma tentative pour renouveler, dans le contexte où domine la littérature de story-telling, le roman d’analyse sans histoire, sous la forme de ce que l’on nomme des “fictions pensives”.» 

“In Search of the Fault Line”. Lecture by Michaël Ferrier, Resident of the Jules Verne Writing Residency (01/26/2022)

Michael Ferrier is the inaugural resident of the Jules Verne Writing Residency at Ohio State. He’s the author of numerous books published by Editions Gallimard, including Tokyo, petits portraits de l’aube (2004), Fukushima, récit d’un désastre (2012), and Mémoires d’outre-mer (2015), translated as Over Seas of Memory in 2019. A Recipient of numerous literary awards and honors (Edouard Glissant Prize, Décembre Prize, Jacques Lacarrière Prize…), Dr. Ferrier is also Professor of French at the prestigious Chuo University in Tokyo, Japan, where he directs the research group: “In the Face of Alterity: The Image of the Others in Arts and Society.”

Short summary by Prof. Ferrier: “All around us the world is shaking. Where are the fault lines? How to describe them, reveal them? For what purpose? These are perhaps the first questions a writer must ask themself today, in these devastating times. ‘As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.’ This is the first sentence, slightly paranoid, of George Orwell’s text “The Lion and the Unicorn” (Why I Write, 1940, Penguin Books, 1984). Today, this sentence seems more cruel and more urgent than ever. The question ‘Why do you write?’ is one of the most often asked of any writer. To this question, there are many answers, often contradictory, and it is not even certain that the writer is the best person to answer it! However, it is not useless to attempt doing so: through the answers of various authors (Samuel Beckett, Georges Perec, Pierre Guyotat…) and using the examples of my own books, I will try to show that writing can lead not only to a literary or aesthetic debate, but also to a redefinition of our presence in the world. At a time when our world literally collapses under our eyes, this seems more fragile, but also more vital than ever.” 

Prof. Ian Curtis (Kenyon): “Pleading Literature: Reading and Responsibility in a Postwar French Murder Case” (10/22/2021)

Ian Curtis is an Assistant Professor of French at Kenyon College, where his research and teaching interests center on postwar French literature and film, youth culture, and the history of psychiatry and psychoanalysis in France.  He received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 2020, after completing a Master’s in psychoanalysis at the Université de Paris, VIII, and an A.B. with highest honors in French at Kenyon College.  In 2017-2018, Curtis was a visiting student in the Department of History at Sciences Po, and a pensionnaire étranger at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de la rue d’Ulm. His talk today is adapted from his book manuscript, The J3 Affair (1948-1951): Modern Literature and the Memory of Occupation in a Postwar Murder in France.  Based on his dissertation research, for which Curtis was awarded the Marguerite A. Peyre Prize from the Department of French at Yale University, Curtis’s monograph is built on an original archival discovery, and retraces and analyses a crime committed in the name of literature and philosophy.   

Short summary by Dr. Curtis: “The subject of this talk is borrowed from my book manuscript, which retraces and analyzes a judicial affair that contemporaries described as one of the most important criminal cases of twentieth-century France.  “Pleading Literature” examines the numerous instances during the affair when canonical and popular works of fiction came under the scrutiny of journalists, psychiatrists, and judges.  Tracing discussions about books and their authors among the protagonists of the affair, in the press, and in the courtroom, I explore the ideological differences these literary debates reveal and offer perspectives on the competing theories of juvenile crime onto which they can be mapped.”

Prof. Renan Larue (UCSB): “Gastronomic Controversies: Veganism, Environmentally-Conscious Consumption, and French Agri-business.”(09/15/2021)

Renan Larue is a writer and teacher of French literature at the University of California in Santa-Barbara, where he created a Vegan Studies program which explores the intersection between vegetarian and vegan food choices and philosophy, touching on politics, economics, religion, and psychology. In 2016, Renan Larue published “Vegetarianism and Its Enemies” In this Académie Française La Bruyère prize-winning book, he explores the history of vegetarianism in the Western world, from antiquity to the present day.  In 2021, he published « La pensée végane. 50 regards sur la condition animale » (Vegan thoughts. 50 ways of looking at the animal welfare) in which he discusses speciesism and animal prejudice, among other issues.

Short summary by Dr. Larue: “During the lecture I will address the concept of “happy meat” [«viande bio»]. While most French people condemn factory farming for either ethical or environmental reasons there is a small minority within this group who advocate for plant-based diets. For those who either enjoy the taste of meat or don’t want to put too much thought into realities of husbandry and/or slaughterhouses, the above mentioned position appears to be too extreme for the general public. Hence the prominence of public figures like Jean-Pierre Coffe, Périco Legasse or Jocelyne Porcher (the French equivalents of Joel Salatin and Michael Pollan) who promote yesteryear’s small-scale farming and blame vegans for advocating for the abolition of animal agriculture altogether. Melanie Joy, amongst others, named this new attitude “neocarnism.” Within the span of a couple of years, neocarnism has become hegemonic in French (as well as U.S.) media. The concept of “viande bio” is a perfect example of “passive revolution” (Gramsci) as 1) nothing changes fundamentally for the environment and farm animals, and 2) the animal-industrial complex manages to tranquillize people’s conscious while buying and eating animal products.”