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Past Events

Photos from a few of our online events this year. Check our calendar to see a full list of our 2020-21 events!

Allo? A Zoom Call with Hélène Cixous

Friday, March 26th | 9:00am 



Humus: History of Passages - a bilingual discussion with  Fabienne Kanor and Lynn Palermo

Tuesday, October 27th | 3:00pm


Naissance d'un Regard: A Virtual Seminar with Jacques Laurans

Friday, October 16th | 11:00am


A Celebration of Dr. Valérie Loichot's Book: Water Graves: The Art of the Unritual in the Greater Caribbean

Friday, October 9th | 3:00pm


Visualizing Experimental Psychology: Huysmans' Still Lives

A talk by Visiting Assistant Professor John D'Amico

Wednesday, April 15th | 4:15 pm | Via Zoom

For this reader, Huysmans’ signature moments take the shape of his finely rendered still lives – the most famous of which is from A Rebours: a tortoise found dead under the weight of its bejeweled shell. Other, more mundane examples also exist, their sensory vividness similarly due to their minute registration of “la marche des heures”: alongside leftovers, an empty bottle of red imprints upon a table cloth a blue circle; a velvet divan displays a faded pink resembling raspberry jam absorbed by a piece of bread.

This talk explores what I consider to be a parallel phenomenon studied – and wrought with equal attention – by Huysmans in his novel En Rade: the errant cognition of its protagonist Jacques Marles. The subjective equivalent of the external tableaux detailed above is the character’s mental state, a congenital ennui that disrupts, and thus magnifies, “la marche de ses pensées.”

His vagabond thought is further aggravated by the arrival of three dreams, which, prompting a quest for an explanation, lead him to invoke the writings of the German scientist Wilhelm Wundt, the founder of modern psychology. While the narrator casts him as the exemplar of reductive positivism – Wundt claimed that an extended foot during sleep elucidates the experience of an oneiric plunge – Huysmans creatively reworked his theories of mind into an imaginary of scientific technique to give his novel an experimental flavor.

Wundt employed reaction times to objectify psychic phenomena, measuring the elapsed time between a sensation and its subjective apperception as a feeling. Huysmans flirts with these quantitative approaches to psychology in order to double down on subjectivity; blurring the line between external perception and internal experience, he tries his hand at portraying the transformative powers of consciousness, that most mercurial of tableaux and domain, par excellence, of quality.

Blaq Italiano: Exploring Culture, Race, Identity, and Citizenship in Contemporary Italy

A talk by Director and Activist Fred Kuwornu

Thursday, November 7th | 7:00pm | White Hall 206

"The Elephant in the Text"

A talk by Professor Thangam Ravindranathan

Tuesday, November 5th | 4:15pm | Callaway C202

Thangam Ravindranathan is Associate Professor in the Department of French Studies at Brown University. She received her PhD in Comparative/French Literature from the University of Pennsylvania and Université de Paris VIII (Vincennes-Saint-Denis). Her teaching and research interests are 20th- and 21st-century literature and criticism/theory; poetry; narratives of travel; the contemporary novel; the question of the animal; ecological perspectives. She is the author of Là où je ne suis pas: récits de dévoyage (Presses Universitaires de Vincennes, 2012), a reflection on travel as a disappointed poetics and a dismantled epistemology in 20th century French literature (revisiting writings by Henri Michaux, Jean-Paul Sartre, Georges Perec, Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Eric Chevillard and others). Other book projects, Donner le change (with Antoine Traisnel, Éditions Hermann, 2016) and Animals Missing (in progress), focus on animals in contemporary literary and critical thought.

Book Party: "Perishability Fatigue"

Conversation between Vincent Bruyère and Allan Stoekl

Thursday, October 17th | 4:30pm | Atwood Chemistry, Room 215

The Department of French and Italian invites you to attend the book celebration for Professor Bruyère’s book “Perishability Fatigue”. Please join us for a conversation between Professor Vincent Bruyère and Allan Stoekl, Professor Emeritus of French and Comparative Literature at Penn State University, on Thursday, October 17th at 4:30pm in Atwood Chemistry Center, Room 215.

Textual Drifting: A Roundtable with Kim Thúy

Thursday, April 18th | 4:30pm | White Hall 101

Kim Thúy is a Vietnamo-Canadian fiction writer, performer, translator, chef, and former lawyer. Acknowledged as one of the major contemporary writers of Canada, Quebec, Vietnam and of the French language, she fled her native Vietnam in 1978 with other boat-people and settled in Montréal, Québec. Stemming from this experience of forced migration, her work deals primarily with the question of refugees, displacement, gender, and identity. All her novels relentlessly discuss issues of global migration and human rights as they stage the meeting of the two hemispheres. She has written three novels, including Ru, an autobiographical novel that won multiple awards. She has also published a cookbook about Vietnamese women and their culinary traditions. Most of her books have been translated into multiple languages. 

This event is co-sponsored by The Hightower Fund, The East Asian Studies Program, The Department of Russian and East Asian Languages & Cultures, The Comparative Literature Speaker Committee, The Department of Anthropology, The Department of Comparative Literature, The Department of English, The Psychoanalytic Studies Program and The French Enrichment and Response Association.

Duo Infernale

With violonist Domenic Salerni and bassist Adam Bernstein

Thursday, April 18th | 6:30pm | White Hall 205

Violinist Domenic Salerni and bassist Adam Bernstein perform an original film score (by Domenic Salerni) to Dante’s Inferno (Giuseppe de Liguoro, 1911), the first feature-length Italian film. De Liguorio’s film is based on the aesthetic of late-nineteenth-century artist Gustave Doré. 

"Tournées Film Festival"

April 2, 4, 5 and 6 | White Hall 207

  • Tuesday, April 2 at 7:00pm: 120 Battements par minute/BPM
  • Thursday, April 4 at 6pm: Visages, villages/Faces, Places and a t 8pm: Une vie violente/A Violent Life
  • Friday, April 5 at 6pm: Moi, un noir/ I, A Negro and at 8pm: Félicité
  • Saturday, April 6 at 7:00pm: L’Atelier/ The Workshop

All screening will take place in White Hall 207

Tournées Film Festival is made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S., the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC), the French American Cultural Fund, Florence Gould Foundation and Highbrow Entertainment.

Talk by Professor Marco Jacquemet

"Transidioma: Language and Power in the Digital Age"

Thursday, March 28th | 4:15pm | Math and Science Center, E208

Abstract: The experience of cultural globalization, and the communicative disorder it entails, requires a serious retooling of most basic units of linguistic analysis. The chaos and indeterminacy of contemporary flows of people, knowledge, texts, and commodities across social and geographical space affects most sociolinguistic assumptions behind social interactions. In particular, we can no longer assume that shared knowledge, especially indexical knowledge, still serves to bind people together, facilitate interactions, and negotiate conflicts. By introducing the concept of transidioma—i.e. the ensemble of communicative practices of people embedded in multilingual environments and engaged in interactions that blend face-to-face and digitally-mediated communication—this lecture explores the problematic nature of late-modern communication, characterized as it is by asymmetrical power, multiple communicative agents with competing agendas, multilingual and hybridized talk, and multimodal (especially digital) forms of interaction. Using data from various ethnographic sites (but in particular from asylum hearings), this lecture documents the renewed reliance on denotational references as a primary strategy to handle interactions in multilingual, power-saturated settings. The claim is that it is time to go even beyond a “linguistics of contact” to examine the transidiomatic strategies (such as denotational-heavy interactional moves) which are the building blocks of a sociolinguistics of multilingual mixing, communicative recombinations, and xenoglossic becoming.

Marco Jacquemet is Professor of Communication and Culture at the University of San Francisco. His current scholarship focuses on the communicative mutations produced by the circulation of migrants, languages, and media idioms in the Mediterranean area. He is writing a book based on this research, called “Transidioma: Language and Power in the Digital Age” (Wiley, forthcoming). His most significant English publications to date are Ethereal Shadows: Communication and Power in Contemporary Italy (co-authored with Franco Berardi; Autonomedia, 2009), and Credibility in Court: Communicative Practices in the Camorra's Criminal Trials (Cambridge University Press, 2009, 2nd edition; winner of the BAAL Book of the Year Award). He is also active in Italian and European mediactivist and refugee rights networks.

Talk by Professor Ananya Jahanara Kabir

"Créolité and Coolitude, the Indian on the Plantation"

Monday, December 3rd | 2:00pm | White Hall 110

The abolition of slavery worldwide in course of the 18th century was followed by the creation of a new source of plantation labour through various inter-imperial collaborations: indentured workers from Asia. The indentured labour diasporas that were superimposed on existent African-heritage and creole populations created through slavery, introduced new demographic and cultural elements; these, in turn, have generated specific consequences within the project of creolization that the Plantation catalysed. What are the memorial repercussions of the Indian on the Plantation? Using the concepts of ‘Creolité’ (as developed by Chamoiseau, Barnabé, and Confiant), and ‘Coolitude’ (as developed by Khal Torabully), I reveal how cultural and curatorial practices from the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean are grappling with the re-calibration of the Plantation’s symbolic economy necessitated by the entangled memories of the ‘coolie’, the ‘master’, and the ‘slave’.

Ananya Jahanara Kabir is Professor of English Literature in the Department of English, King’s College London

Talk (in French) by Professor Babacar Mbaye Diop

"African Art and Universal Modernity"

Tuesday, October 16th | 4:15pm | Board Room, Michael C. Carlos Museum

Babacar Mbaye Diop is a professor of Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art at the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar. He is author of Critique de la notion d’art africain. Approches historiques, ethno-esthétiques et philosophiques (2011) and Omar Pène. Un destin en musique (2016) and over a dozen articles devoted to African art history. He has edited two collections of essays La conscience historique africaine (2008) and Le destin de la Négritude (2009). Diop is also a curator and works as an advisor for several artists. He was the Director of the 11th edition of Dakar Biennale, the largest art event in Africa. Diop has organized several solo and group exhibitions. He is currently the President of the Senegalese section of the International Art Critics Association (AICA).