Wednesday, May 23
Graduate Symposium in Literature
Organizers : Françoise Palleau (U. Paris Nord-13) & François Specq (ENS de Lyon)
Respondents : René Alladaye (U. de Toulouse 2-Le Mirail), Brigitte Félix (U. du Maine) and Diane Sabatier (U. de Perpignan)
Places : “Multi” room of the LEA dept (Building Y, 3rd floor) during the day and Amphi Y (Building Y, Ground floor) at 6pm
– 10:00: Valérie Rauzier, U. Paul Valéry, Montpellier, France (supervisor: Claude Chastagner).
“Diamanda Galàs et Kathy Acker: Les Artistes Objectent.”
– 10:30: François Hugonnier, U. of Paris-Ouest Nanterre, France (supervisor: Hélène Aji).
“Les interdits de la représentation dans les œuvres de Paul Auster et Jerome Rothenberg.”
11:00 Coffee break
– 11:30: Mary Boyington, U. of Provence, Aix-Marseille, France (supervisor: Annick Duperray). “Henry James et Maupassant: modalités de l’étrangeté.”
12:30 Lunch break
– 14:30: Joey Massé, U. of La Réunion / U. of Poitiers, France (supervisors: Eileen Williams-Wanquet and Liliane Louvel).
“The Relationship Between Text and Image in the Works of Siri Hustvedt.”
– 15:00: Ferdous Grama, U. Paul Valéry, Montpellier, France / U. of Constantine, Algeria (supervisors: Claudine Raynaud and Nasr Eddine Megherbi).
“Alice Walker, An Activist Writer.”
15:30 Coffee break
– 16:00: Souleymane Ba, U. Paul Valéry, Montpellier, France (supervisor: Claudine Raynaud).
“Colson Whitehead: vers une écriture post-raciale?”
– 18:00 Arnaud Roujou de Boubée (Fulbright / French American Commission) : Bourses et soutien à la recherche / Fellowships and support for researchers.
Valérie Rauzier, U. Paul Valéry, Montpellier, France (supervisor: Claude Chastagner).
“Diamanda Galàs et Kathy Acker: Les Artistes Objectent.”
Ce travail porte sur l’art de deux Américaines: Diamanda Galas et Kathy Acker et tout particulièrement sur la place centrale du corps dans leurs travaux. En effet, bien que leur supports soient très différents (l’une est pianiste et chanteuse, l’autre était écrivaine), toutes deux utilisent le corps comme scène théâtrale, le lieu ultime d’une mise en scène, d’une auto- représentation et de l’expression propre d’un sujet affranchi. Il s’agit alors d’une prise de pouvoir d’un sujet authentique.
Le corps devient aussi arène, lieu de sacrifice où se révèle la vérité: celle du corps aliéné, objectifié. Elles mettent en évidence les limites qui lui sont imposées, les techniques et stratégies d’oppression du discours dominant.
A l’issue de ces dénonciations, le un corps devient champ de bataille, où elles appellent à la rébellion. Une subversion nécessairement organique, manifestement viscérale de l’ordre établi s’instaure en contre-pouvoir et prône une décolonisation du corps.
Toutes deux interprètent, écrivent et réécrivent, révèlent, de façon réciproque mais également réfléchie. L’expérience de l’audience est éminemment et parfois violemment physique elle aussi, inscrite profondément dans les corps. Leur oeuvre est incarnée d’un élan expérimentaliste par lequel elles déconstruisent et redéconstruisent les diverses structures de pouvoir.
Les problèmes et questions que j’ai rencontrées jusqu’ici sont d’ordre essentiellement méthodologique. L’aspect interdisciplinaire du sujet (études culturelles, artistiques -théâtre, musique, littérature- musicologie, théorie queer et féministe) ne facilite en rien mon travail. De plus les sources secondaires sur les travaux de ces artistes sont assez rares.
J’espère pouvoir lors des doctoriales trouver inspiration, échange, et de possibles collaborations et ainsi palier l’isolation.
François Hugonnier, U. of Paris-Ouest Nanterre, France (supervisor: Hélène Aji).
“Les interdits de la représentation dans les œuvres de Paul Auster et Jerome Rothenberg.”
Je rédige actuellement la première partie de mon Doctorat sous la direction d’Hélène Aji. Le titre que nous avions originalement choisi, et qui sera peut-être modifié à l’issue de la rédaction, était « Les interdits de la représentation dans les œuvres de Paul Auster et Jerome Rothenberg ». Mes recherches portent sur l’écriture diasporique juive-américaine de Paul Auster et Jerome Rothenberg, deux écrivains séculiers qui ont exploité en profondeur — et tenté de repousser — les possibilités de représentations et de témoignage offertes par le langage, sous des formes très diverses : poésie, essai, happening, commentaire en prose, anthologie et fiction.
Bien que leurs œuvres et leurs carrières soient différentes, les motivations qui animent leur activité d’écriture sont similaires. L’un milite pour les formes linguistiques et poétiques avant-gardistes « en dehors de la littérature », l’autre est largement établi dans le « mainstream », bien que d’une façon originale et novatrice. Précisions encore que ni l’un ni l’autre ne rejette le « mainstream » (Rothenberg l’affirme lors de sa définition d’« outsider poetry »). La célèbre formule de Marina Tsvetayeva leur sert de point d’ancrage : « All poets are jews » (ce qui signifie également « All poets are not Jews », ajoute Rothenberg). [[Par exemple, Auster et Rothenberg parodient la traversée des grands espaces et de la « wilderness » américaine. Leur vision de l’Amérique s’inscrit par ailleurs dans l’héritage de Franz Kafka (Amerika). Leur engagement politique et artistique militant est marqué au départ par les mouvements de contestation contre la guerre du Vietnam. 1968 est une date marquante pour ces deux écrivains New-Yorkais d’origine. Nous espérons aboutir à une définition de leur écriture juive-américaine dans la troisième partie de la thèse.]]Auster et Rothenberg recherchent un langage nouveau issu d’un héritage juif européen et d’un héritage américain repoussant les limites du dicible et de la représentation, reformulant les questionnements identitaires et laissant une place importante à l’imagination afin de parvenir à un témoignage « plus complet ». Tous deux invités à témoigner lors de la conférence « Secular Jewish Culture / Radical Poetic Practice » modérée par Charles Bernstein à New York en 2004, ils offrent une vision complémentaire et représentative d’un mouvement radical juif américain qui milite pour la reconnaissance des formes linguistiques évoluant en dehors des techniques référentielles les plus reconnues. Leurs investigations philosophiques, poétiques et linguistiques sont en grande partie héritées de leurs filiations intellectuelles et artistiques juives, expérimentées et affinées lors de leurs travaux de recherches mémoriels et ancestraux (hommage, mémoire, anthologie, midrash, réécriture, etc.).
Dans la première partie de ma thèse, je traite des représentations de l’écrivain comme passeur et travailleur solitaire aliéné, qu’Edmond Jabès et Paul Celan, leurs influences communes et premières, reconnaissent également comme analogique à la condition juive. Les liens entre l’errance diasporique et l’histoire de la création des Etats-Unis y sont également abordés. Auster et Rothenberg ont effectué les premiers pas de leur parcours d’écrivains juifs-américains en tant que commentateurs, intervieweurs et traducteurs des écrivains de la diaspora (Celan, Jabès, Reznikoff, Oppen, etc.).[[Un premier résultat de cet aspect de mes recherches a été publié dans « Diaspora Re-writing in the Works of Secular Jewish-American Writers Paul Auster and Jerome Rothenberg » (in Hyphen, Special Number on Diaspora Writing Across the World, Shimla, India, 2011).]] Auster et Rothenberg ont ainsi confronté leurs aspirations à celles de ces écrivains de l’indicible pour forger leur propre système sémiotique, afin de parvenir à défier les interdits de la représentation et dépasser les limites du langage. Arrivant bientôt au terme de ma première partie, je m’apprête à rédiger une dernière sous-partie sur l’indicible mystique, qui est à distinguer de l’indicible traumatique, et dont l’expérimentation est pour Auster et Rothenberg une étape importante vers l’expression de l’inexprimable, symbolisée notamment par le nom imprononçable de YHWH. Ces écrivains sont fascinés par l’acte de nommer, qui est lui-même à l’origine de l’activité poétique.
Paul Auster et Jerome Rothenberg sont des écrivains d’après Auschwitz, Hiroshima et le 11 Septembre. C’est là que s’articule le deuxième grand axe de ma thèse, dont j’ai proposé un premier résultat scientifique lors du colloque international « Perspectives on 9/11 »,[[« Traumatisme et écriture du désastre dans Man in the Dark de Paul Auster » (Université Aix-Marseille / UQAM, octobre 2010).]] et dont j’aborderai un autre aspect, spécifiquement dans l’œuvre de Rothenberg cette fois, lors du Congrès de l’AFEA 2012 (atelier « Héritages Modernistes » avec Axel Nesme et Isabelle Alfandary). Pour reprendre deux termes clefs de Maurice Blanchot, Auster et Rothenberg sont des écrivains du « désastre » et leurs techniques de « détour » pour re-présenter l’événement traumatique sont singulières (le traumatisme sera abordé dans les champs linguistique, philosophique, psychanalytique et littéraire). Dans la compilation Triptych (2007), Rothenberg donne d’abord voix à ses ancêtres fantasmés de Pologne ainsi qu’aux Indiens d’Amérique (Poland/1931 ), puis aux témoins intégraux, ceux qui n’ont pas pu parler lors du désastre de la Shoah, terme préférable à Holocauste mais inadéquat pour Rothenberg qui le renomme Khurbn (1989), signifiant « désastre » ou « destruction » en Yiddish. Dans le dernier volet The Burning Babe (2006), Rothenberg témoigne enfin des attentats du 11 septembre dont il fut l’un des témoins direct. Se démarquant de l’œuvre de Charles Reznikoff, comme il me l’a spécifié lors de notre entrevue, Rothenberg produit des poèmes alternant entre témoignage brut et imagination, avec une grande liberté spéculative (illustrée par l’utilisation de la gematria, procédé d’association poétique numérologique inspiré des kabbalistes).
Reconnaissant la couverture du New Yorker réalisée par Art Spiegelman (2001) comme un chef d’œuvre de l’anti-représentation, Paul Auster décrit brièvement la chute des tours comme étant la re-présentation (ou autrement dit, la délocalisation) des événements de la Shoah, dont il a insisté sur le caractère indicible dans son œuvre de jeunesse (poésie, essais sur Reznikoff, Jabès, Celan, Oppen, et son mémoire The Invention of Solitude ) : « in the fire and smoke of three thousand incinerated bodies, a holocaust was visited upon us » (Collected Prose, 2003). Cette phrase est d’ailleurs répétée exactement mot pour mot, bien que de façon elliptique, lors de la conclusion du roman The Brooklyn Follies (2005). Dans Oracle Night (2004), on remarque le même tarissement du discours lorsque la voix narrative du récit dans le récit se trouve enfermée avec son personnage principal dans un abri antiatomique. Ni Paul Auster, ni ses personnages de fiction ne s’attardent à décrire l’événement traumatique, mais celui-ci est pourtant le moteur sous-jacent de l’ensemble de son œuvre post-11 septembre. Auster a recours à des détours métaphoriques, linguistiques et même uchroniques pour défier les limites du langage. Dans son essai sur Reznikoff, Auster déplorait l’impossibilité de témoigner directement des événements indicibles d’Auschwitz. Dans ses romans posant souvent la question de la théodicée (In the Country of Last Things, Oracle Night), le langage devient vecteur d’un contenu référentiel en dehors du langage et de la représentation, mettant en doute la validité du matériau linguistique et de la relation arbitraire et peu fiable entre signe linguistique et objet. J’ai abordé ce phénomène en détail dans le chapitre « Speaking the Unspeakbale: Auster’s Semeotic World » [[The Invention of Illusions: International Perspectives on Paul Auster, ed. Stefania Ciocia and Jesús A. González, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011, (Chapter 12), 259-287.]] ainsi que lors de mon intervention sur « L’artiste faussaire et la création du réel : The Brooklyn Follies de Paul Auster » dans le cadre du congrès de l’AFEA 2011.
La difficulté principale que je rencontre est une impression de retenue de l’écriture due au risque d’anticipation sur certaines idées prévues pour être traitées ultérieurement dans le développement. Cela me procure paradoxalement l’alternance d’un sentiment de cohésion de la problématique globale et de doutes profonds sur la validité de mon plan détaillé. Ce problème semble être lié au fait que la véritable conceptualisation, le résultat concret de la recherche, n’arrive qu’au fil de l’écriture. Les conclusions provisoires participent à une vision d’ensemble et s’acheminent pas à pas vers une réponse plurielle et mouvante aux questions posées initialement. Mon travail porte sur des écrivains qui placent le questionnement au cœur de l’acticité d’écriture et de leur esthétique. Par conséquent, il m’est parfois difficile, à mon tour, d’obtenir d’autre résultat qu’une question. Mais n’est-ce-pas là, et en dehors de tout particularisme, un aspect universel de la recherche littéraire ?
Mary Boyington, U. of Provence, Aix-Marseille, France (supervisor: Annick Duperray). “Henry James et Maupassant: modalités de l’étrangeté.”
This dissertation analyses the uncanny in the tales of Henry James and Guy de Maupassant and the critical reception of Maupassant by James.
My initial research for this dissertation had centered on nineteenth century American tales and how the development of the French conte fantastique evolved in comparison. The original project was entirely too vast and could not adequately analyze the trans-Atlantic connections between authors and the common influences on their supernatural tales in one disseration. Through further analysis, I came to focus on the uncanny (inquietante étrangeté) and its development during the nineteenth century, leading up to Fred’s essay The Uncanny in 1919, and on finding the right duo of authors to examine.
It became increasingly clear that Henry James was an ideal choice to study in conjunction with the uncanny. James’s realistic ghost tales give the reader unlimited possibilities for interpretation. The literary corpus concentrates on the ghost tales, published after 1890, and include The Turn of the Screw, Sir Edmund Orme, Owen Wingrave, The Friends of Friends, and the Jolly Corner. James himself described the psychological elements of his supernatural tales as the “strange and sinister embroidered on the very type of the normal and easy” and these elements tie directly into Freuds theory of the uncanny being rooted in what is familiar and “homely”.
After deciding on Henry James, working with not only his works of fiction, I began to explore the volumes of critical essays and literary criticism written by the author. He painstakingly wrote volumes on his contemporaries, colleagues, and literary influences. Although his main focus on his French counterparts were celebrated novelists, James does write of Maupassant’s mastery of the short story. Although James does not analyze Maupassant’s contes fantastiques directly, we can use the essays and writings in Literary Criticism (Vol. II), The Art of Fiction, the essay Guy de Maupassant, and the preface to the English translation of the Odd Number to establish James’ critical reception of Maupassant and the subsequent manifestations of this French influence on the uncanny elements of his ghost tales. I will further explore how these tales developed following the publications of Maupassant’s tales Le Horla, Qui sait, and Lui, as these works gave precedent to the uncanny elements in James’s ghost tales.
This dissertation is organized into three sections: establishing the uncanny in relation to fantastic /supernatural nineteenth-century literature; literary criticism and critical reception of Maupassant by James; analysis of tales and demonstration of influential elements of the uncanny. Critical elements will include an analysis of the literary genre to which these tales belong and a psychoanalytical approach to literary analysis as well as reception studies. I will use not only Freud’s essay on the uncanny, subsequent writings on Freud, along with other literary criticism on fantastic literature, and most importantly James’s writings on Maupassant.
I feel this dissertation will make a significant contribution to the academy and will bring a new perspective to current scholarly publications in the area of James studies and in comparative literature.
Joey Massé, U. of La Réunion / U. of Poitiers, France (supervisors: Eileen Williams-Wanquet and Liliane Louvel).
“The Relationship Between Text and Image in the Works of Siri Hustvedt.”
My PhD project is currently entitled: “The relationship between text and image in the works of Siri Hustvedt.” The corpus consists of five novels: The Blindfold (1992), The Enchantment of Lily Dahl (1996), What I loved (2003), Sorrows of an American (2007) and A Summer Without Men (2011). Siri Hustvedt is an American writer of Norwegian origin. She has lived in New York City for the past thirty years. Since the 1980s, Siri Hustvedt has had a rich literary career, writing poetry, novels and collections of essays. She is very interested in psychoanalysis and neuroscience. In her works of fiction, one cannot help but notice the importance given to the notions of identity, memory and imagination. Moreover, art seems to impregnate most of her works. Indeed, the narrative is often set in the New York art world and the author introduces descriptions of works of art in her novels.
The purpose of my research is to study the strong presence of the visual in Siri Hustvedt’s fiction. Her stories are saturated with vivid and lively descriptions of paintings, photographs and art exhibitions. These literary descriptions of visual works, called ekphrasis, seem to be central to the novels’ plots. This research examines the function of the introduction of images in a literary text and questions the impact of this event on the reader/viewer’s mind. This study will deal with art and identity or how the descriptions of works of art contribute to characterization. Indeed, art in various forms does not appear as a mere object of contemplation — the characters face the works of art in a violent and direct way, thus revealing complex psyches.
This research aims at a thorough study of Siri Hustvedt’s works of fiction, which has not been undertaken in France so far. What is more, it could also contribute to the development of intermedial studies. I will make use of the works of Liliane Louvel L’œil du texte. Texte et image dans la littérature de langue anglaise (1998) Texte et Image. Images à lire, textes à voir (2002) et Le Tiers Pictural. Pour une critique intermédiale (2010) as a theoretical and critical method to analyze the function of the image in a literary text, its various modes of insertion as well as its effects on the reader/viewer. Using the research work done during my master’s degree on The Blindfold, I will resort to a number of methods and theories of art history, such as Erwin Panofsky’s iconographic analysis and Charles Sanders Peirce’s modern theory of signs. I will also be using the theories of poststructuralist and postmodern philosophers, such as Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze and Clément Rosset for my analysis of perception and reality. Finally, I will refer to the works of Susan Sontag, Roland Barthes and Philippe Dubois for the study of the photographs in the novels, focusing on the theories of portrait photography and its reception.
After a brief summary of my research, I intend to explain its progress and the results obtained so far. Then, I propose to present some of the methodological issues that I am concerned with such as the need to elaborate a more precise research question as well as how to organize a thesis plan.
Ferdous Grama, U. Paul Valéry, Montpellier, France / U. of Constantine, Algeria (supervisors: Claudine Raynaud and Nasr Eddine Megherbi).
“Alice Walker, An Activist Writer.”
Alice Walker defines herself in the subtitle of one of her collections as an activist writer (Anything We Love Can Be Saved. A Writer’s Activism ) while she plays down her militant involvement in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. One of the main figures of the African American literary scene and Black American feminism through her conception of “womanism” and her writings (“Advancing Luna and Ida B. Wells” ), Alice Walker is a controversial political writer whose poetic and novelistic writings are related to her often autobiographical essays —“In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens” (1984), “Living by the Word” (1988), and “Anything We Love Can Be Saved” (1997)—and public interventions in the struggles of the African American minority and the feminist fight.
My thesis will first examine Alice Walker’s novel Meridian that was published in 1976. It portrays the struggle of black women against sexism and racism and their quest for self-identity, a theme discussed in her essay “The Civil Rights Movement, What Good Was It?” (1967). Set in the 1960’s and the 1970’s, Meridian tells the story of Meridian Hill, a young drop out coming of age in the boiling sixties and her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in the South. It is a novel that asserts the movement’s vision of freedom and nonviolence by bringing constantly to the fore questions of political significance as it examines the meanings, methods and goals of revolutionary actions. Walker transposes in this work some of her own personal experiences as an activist in the Civil Rights Movement and also stages most of questions that relate to black History and the role of African American women as activists and artists. Clearly, Walker has drawn upon important elements of her own life for the novel, sometimes paralleling them, sometimes inverting them. I will try to investigate the links between the writing of black History and the aesthetics developed to put forward what Walker defines as “spiritual survival”.
The development of a Black American feminism in the 1970’s, regional registration (the South), the centrality of The Color Purple (1982) where Walker denounces patriarchal black culture, the claim for a matrilineal heritage (Zora Neale Hurston), the struggle against female genital mutilation (The Temple of My Familiar , Possessing the Secret of Joy , By The Light of My Father’s Smile , Warrior Marks ), the quest for identity and Walker’s final phase that many define as philosophical “New Age” will be the milestones of this analysis that is marked by controversy. If the relationship between the autobiographical and the other genres (novel, poetry and essay) constitutes the hallmark of Walker’s literary work, it is then important to define the links between politics and aesthetics. What are the implications of this interaction on the notion of ‘author’, the figure of the writer, the place given to the reader? What incursions does Walker’s literary work ultimately perform into the black feminist discourse? In short, what is at stake in Walker’s concept of “the black revolutionary artist” in its relationship to her craft as poet and novelist?. Finally, what is the purpose from writing Meridian? How does Walker, as a feminist black writer, deal with the trauma of the black community through her novel?
Souleymane Ba, U. Paul Valéry, Montpellier, France (supervisor: Claudine Raynaud).
“Colson Whitehead: vers une écriture post-raciale?”
In an article that was published, a year after Barack Obama’s election, under the title “The Year of Living Post-Racially” (2009), Colson Whitehead ironically discusses the meaning of race in the mainstream American literature, popular culture, and politics. In this article, Whitehead presents himself as a candidate for the position of a “post-racial czar.” Indeed, about his potential artistic mission, he postulates the changes he would like to make: “And literature? Take Beloved, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Toni Morrison […] Let us improve Ms. Morrison’s timeless classic. We keep the name — it’s so totally, invitingly post-racial — but make the eponymous ghost more Casper-like. Without making her Casper-looking. That would totally change the aesthetic intent of the book” (Whitehead, The New York Times, 2009). The question “is Colson Whitehead Post-racial in his aesthetics?” constitutes to some extent a problematic with regard to the tradition of African American literature in the sense that from the slave narratives to the Black Arts aesthetics with a detour through the Harlem Renaissance movement, this literary tradition presents Art as a form of propaganda, a device to fight racism, deconstruct white supremacy, and advance a positive portrayal of the black character.
Yet, Whitehead seems to have a different standpoint on the role of literature in society and the role of the novelist in his community far from what the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement writers claim. Whitehead’s writing is often described as not carrying the burden of that canonically racial consciousness or protest. John Updike notes from Colson Whitehead’s novels that his black characters are not like Richard Wright’s or Ralph Ellison’s characters who are over-burdened by the racial struggles (Updike, Due Considerations, 258).
In Sag Harbor (2010), the plot evolves around a Black middle-class family that has a big house in the heart of Manhattan; they send their kids to a private language immersion school where French professors teach them; they go to Sag Harbor island for their summer vacations. And Zone One (2011) presents a post-apocalyptic world infected by zombies. Racism and racial prejudices are temporarily inexistent. Therefore these two plots are not built around the racial identity quest motif.
Such a lack of activism in Whitehead’s novels is viewed by Kenneth Warren as a sign of class difference and a form of individual identity formation that does not identify with the community (What Was African American Literature? 2011, 110). Bernard Bell also comes to the same conclusion in his book, The Contemporary African American Novel (2004) that links Whitehead to the group of the New Black Aesthetics (NBA).
So in this following analysis a particular attention will be devoted to showing what does Whitehead have in common with this burgeoning NBA initiated by Trey Ellis (The New Black Aesthetics, 2008)? In what terms is Whitehead’s writing post-racial? The analysis of two master tropes: satire and signifying will show the Whitehead’s take on canonical texts and critical issues in the tradition, like passing, heroism, naming, etc.
Graduate Symposium in Civilization
Organizer: Luc Benoit à la Guillaume (Paris-Ouest Nanterre)
Respondents: Eliane Liddell (Perpignan Via Domitia) ; Jim Cohen (Paris 3-Sorbonne nouvelle) ; Mathilde Arrivé (Montpellier 3-Paul Valéry) ; Nathalie Caron (UPEC-Paris 12) ; Caroline Rolland-Diamond (Paris-Ouest Nanterre) ; Mark Meigs (Paris-Diderot-Paris 7)
This graduate symposium is dedicated to Naomi Wulf, in memoriam
Places: “Multi” room of the LEA dept (Building Y, 3rd floor) during the day and Amphi Y (Building Y, Ground floor) at 6pm
Local Contact for the Graduate Symposium: Diane SABATIER
“Multi” room of the LEA dept (Building Y, 3rd floor)
9:15 Welcome and opening comments
– 9:30-10:15 Workshop 1: Education since 1945
Respondent: Eliane Liddell (Perpignan Via Domitia)
– Marion Pulce, « The use of racial criteria in American educational policy after the 2007 Supreme Court decision Parents v. Seattle » (Lyon II)
– Laurie Béreau, « ‘Crisis in Education’ : the debate on education in the United States after 1945 » (Strasbourg)
10:45-11:00 Coffee break
– 11:00-12:00 Workshop 2: Race, ethnicity and religion
Respondent: Jim Cohen (Paris 3-Sorbonne nouvelle)
– Nicolas Martin-Breteau, « Sports in the long civil rights movement : 1890s 1960s » (Paris, EHESS)
– Côme Perotin, « Studying an insular community in New York City : primary sources and independence with the Hasidic Jewish community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn » (Paris 8)
-14:30-15:15 Workshop 3: Art and science
Respondent: Mathilde Arrivé (Montpellier 3-Paul Valéry)
– Angélique Quillay, « The Magic Lantern at the Institute of Pennsylvannia Hospital » (Paris Diderot-Paris 7)
– Cristelle Terroni, « Researching alternative spaces in the 1970s : the specificity of working on non-institutional entities » (Lyon 2)
15:45-16:00 Coffee break
-16:00-16:45 Workshop 4: Louisiana before and after the Civil War
Respondents: Nathalie Caron (UPEC-Paris 12) & Caroline Rolland-Diamond (Paris-Ouest Nanterre)
– Mark Leon De Vries, « Political violence during Reconstruction in Louisiana’s Red River Valley » (Leiden, Netherlands)
– Andreas Hübner, « Off to Louisiana. Colonial Officers, ‘German’ settlers, and the making of the ‘côte des allemands’, 1720-1820 » (Giessen, Germany)
-16:45-17:30 Workshop 5: Political architecture
Respondent: Mark Meigs (Paris Diderot-Paris 7)
– David Assatiani, « Political architecture as a nation’s self-representation : the US capitol and the national Mall in Washington DC » (Hamburg, Germany)
Amphi Y (Building Y, Ground floor)
18:00: Arnaud Roujou de Boubee (Fulbright/ French American Commission): Bourses et soutien à la recherche / Fellowships and support for researchers
The use of racial criteria in American educational policy after the 2007 Supreme Court decision Parents v. Seattle
In June 28, 2007, in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District N°1, the US Supreme Court—in a 5-4 decision—struck down plans designed by the Seattle and the Jefferson County, Ky., school systems making use of the racial criterion in the assignment of students to their public schools. Through the particular case of Seattle, the overarching goal of my Ph.D. dissertation is to study the policymaking role of the Supreme Court: how a social issue becomes an object of litigation, how it is framed by the federal judiciary, through a decision which is not devoid of political implications, and then how a strict judicial norm is concretely implemented and in turn affects the American society.
Moreover, the recent decision of the Supreme Court can be seen as part of a larger effort to dismantle the gains of the Civil Rights era. After decades of decisions that contained ambiguity as to the contours of desegregation law, for a few years and under the impulse of its conservative majority, the Court has been pushing to roll back racial equality policies (including affirmative action programs). Such manifest conservative judicial activism demonstrates how educational policymaking is increasingly shaped by the judiciary rather than the legislator—all the more easily as the legislative and the executive seem to have abdicated their influence on desegregation policy to the courts since the 1970s.
In my presentation, I will explain first why the educational public policies at stake were established in Seattle and how public dissatisfaction regarding those policies led to judiciarization. Indeed, as in many American cities, students in Seattle go to their neighborhood schools which are de facto segregated. Thus, Seattle appears as a good example of how the recent Supreme Court decisions limiting rights under school desegregation law, along with structural factors such as residential segregation, have led to a wave of resegregation that has been sweeping the U.S. since the 1990s. In order to redress the situation and promote racial diversity, the Seattle School District adopted in 1998 a “voluntary plan” which took into consideration the race of students—among other criteria—to assign them to the district’s high schools so that the racial make-up of the student body in each high school would reflect that of the district as a whole. However, in 2001, a group of dissatisfied parents formed an association called Parents Involved in Community Schools (PICS) and sued the school district claiming that their children had been refused attendance to their preferred school because of their race and were thus victims of discrimination.
The second part of my presentation will be devoted to the analysis of the Supreme Court decision declaring Seattle’s plan unconstitutional, in order to show how it rests on the Constitution and on legal precedents but most importantly on an ideological principle—colorblindness—and two conflicting judicial philosophies (textualism versus pragmatism).
‘ Crisis in Education ’ : The Debate on Education in the United States after 1945
The notion of a “crisis in education” in America is nowadays a staple of discussions about the state of the schools. It is regularly relayed by general interest media, which never fail to report on the decline of American children’s scores in international tests such as PISA or on the rampant mediocrity in the classrooms of the nations.
It was not always so. To trace back the first manifestations of this discourse pattern, we will turn to the period of the long 1950s.
In the aftermath of WW2, a debate on education emerged in the United States. It opposed the advocates of a return to the teaching of a core curriculum in schools to the followers of John Dewey’s educational progressivism and of modern pedagogy. While the term “crisis” had been used before in relation to the financial and material issues in schools, it came to designate at the time a questioning of the very foundations of education in America. What should schools teach and how should it be taught? Were schools meant to favor the personal development of children or to prepare them as future full members of society?
The Cold War context and the imperatives of the furious competition with the Soviet Union made these unresolved issues all the more critical. The stakes of the debate were raised, and matters of education made a matter of national security.
This research project is set at the crossroads between a variety of fields: history of education but also cultural history, the history of ideas and semiotics. It aims at understanding the dynamics of the debate, while evaluating its impact in society. To draw up a plural perspective of the different shapes the debate took, this dissertation will be grounded in a varied set of primary sources reflecting the period in which they were written, among which presidential discourse, newspaper editorials, essays and monographs meant for people at large, general interest magazines such as Life, and Hollywood films. All combined, those sources will enlighten the stakes of the debate and its repercussions.
This project is not meant to be an assessment of the positions taken in the debate and to determine whether modern pedagogy and progressivism outperform a traditional approach and a core curriculum system. It is an attempt at understanding the positions of both sides, at tracing the dynamics of the debate, at uncovering its ideological dimension, and at considering its political repercussions. While most studies in history of education tend to treat that field as an isolated entity whose evolutions are only remotely connected to developments in society, this research project is set on recontextualizing questions of education and tracing the influence of greater societal forces on its dynamics. The debate on education of the 1950s serves as a rich object of study due to its pivotal dimension, addressing the unresolved issues inherited from the creation of a unified school system while paving the way for subsequent significant debates such as the culture wars.
Sports in the long civil rights movement : 1890s 1960s
I would like to present some of the main results of my ongoing doctoral research on the meaning and role of sports in the long Civil rights movement, i.e., from the 1890s to the 1960s. My Ph.D. is focused on the African American communities of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
Until today, sports has remained an overlooked facet of African Americans’ struggle for civil rights.
Few historians have taken this topic seriously. Yet, sport is of foremost importance to understand the
genesis of this long-lasting effort toward political equality launched by black people in America.
From the early 20th century, upper- and middle-class African Americans have consciously used
athletics as a means to “uplift” their whole “race” and to secure its social assimilation. In the
broader context of the toughening of violence toward black people since the end of the Civil War
and the abolition of slavery, sport was aimed to reinforce the “character” of the “race” by
developing African American youth’s discipline, courage, loyalty, team spirit, sportsmanship and
fair play. Educated in the best black high schools and colleges open to black people, these young
gentlemen and ladies were believed to be able to dismantle commonplace racist stereotypes on
African Americans’ alleged biological and moral inferiority.
Thus, athletics was aimed to create “real” men and women, equal in value and manhood to their white fellow citizens. This education, based on the Greek precept of a sound mind in a sound body,
should help young middle-class African Americans, once grown-ups, embody the image of race
men and women, that is, of leaders whose moral duty was to uplift their entire racial group, and to
to secure its symbolic recognition, social assimilation, and civil rights.
My presentation will present the first part of my Ph.D., that is, the ideology of the building of
bodily “character” through sports, and the institutions—like the high schools, the universities, the
YMCAs and YWCAs—which promoted a wide range of educative programs to reach this political goal.
More broadly, my presentation will explain the largely-shared opinion in the American society
between the 1890s and the 1960s stating that athletics was a means to promote equality, tolerance and
democracy. In other words, I will stress why athletics was (still is) situated at the very core of the
“American dream” political mythology.
Studying an insular community in New York City : primary sources and independence with the Hasidic Jewish community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
I’m currently a PhD candidate at the Institut Français de Géopolitique of Paris 8 University (IFG). My researches focuses on the Hasidic (Orthodox) Jewish community and the housing issues in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY from the 90’s until nowadays. More generally, I’m trying to consider these matters in the bigger context of the New-York’s urban politics (and how to resist gentrification) and religious issues in the US. Following the recommendations of my advisor Frédérick Douzet, I applied and got a Fulbright scholarship to do field work in New-York, as a visiting scholar at the City University of New-York (CUNY) Graduate Center for the years 2010/2011.
My approach is geopolitical, which means I study one territory “Williamsburg”, the power rivalries that occurs on it, and the different strategies of the local stakeholders. That’s why it was necessary to spend as much time as possible in the field, observing and conducting interviews. I was also looking for electoral, urban planning, and housing data that were not available from France.
Having the Fulbright scholarship support was really helpful, but I was still confronted with several difficulties during my eleven months in New-York. Besides the obvious issues – finding a place to live in a very expensive city, interacting with bad skills in English -, my work was complicated because I was dealing with a very insular community that is does not welcome outsiders –I’m not Jewish-, especially not researchers. Most of the previous (sociological and anthropological) studies have been done with the blessing of the Rebbe, the religious leader of this community, by Jewish scholars. Moreover, housing in this neighborhood is a very hot (contemporary) topic with many political ties and fights. The local leaders, elected officials, and city agencies were sometimes reluctant to answer my questions or providing me with what I was looking for.
The first part of my effort has consisted in being accepted by the Hasidic leadership, without asking for the Rebbe’s blessing, and other local stakeholders by networking and showing my objectives and competences: I developed relationships with political operatives and finally worked for (and with) them. During that same year I also started questioning my objectivity and wonder how to use information given by people that trust me or which I collected data from, without their full consent, especially if it could do a disservice to them.
Now that I’m back in France and writing my PhD, I wonder firstly if I could have done a better job and how? With a blessing from the Rebbe? Secondly, I don’t know what information I should use or not. I don’t want to be at odds with the community whereas I would like to approach the subject differently.
The Magic Lantern at the Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital
The magic lantern, precursor of today’s slide projectors, was used to amuse
children or to instruct adults. During the 19th and early 20th century, most
educational, religious and social institutions had magic lanterns and a collection of
glass lantern slides. The Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, opened in 1841 as the
Pennsylvania Hospital for the Insane, retained its collection of old slides. They
were saved, partly because of the institution’s interest in history, but largely
because of the role that lantern slides played in the hospital’s early treatment of
the mentally ill.
Beginning in 1843, Dr. Thomas Kirkbride, the hospital’s superintending physician,
introduced the magic lantern into his ‘Evening Entertainments’, a series of lectures
and concerts designed for the patients. Kirkbride’s 1854 book, On the Construction,
Organisation, and General Arrangements of Hospitals for the Insane, popularized the
details of his asylum philosophy. Kirkbride turned the therapeutic goals of ‘moral
treatment’ into a practical plan of asylum management, and visitors came from all
over the world to see his model mental hospital. The institution was known for the
environment that it offered its patients : the lantern slide shows, the Museum with
its curiosities, the musical instruments in every ward, the ornamented walks of the
hospital and its deer park.
By 1857, Dr. Kirkbride and his assistant physician Dr. Lee had developed an
‘Annual Course of Lectures and Evening Entertainments’ consisting of 122 lectures
over a nine month period. A carefully worked out progression of travelogs was
relieved by scientific demonstrations, concerts and literary evenings. The slide
shows began with views of the Hospital grounds and buildings, and familiar
Philadelphia views, and returned in the final lectures to Philadelphia views and the
grounds and friends of the Hospital. In between, the lectures took the audience to
Washington, Niagara Falls, New York, Paris, England, Ireland, Scotland, St
Petersburg & Moscow, Switzerland, Greece, India, Egypt and the Holy Land…
Kirkbride’s program of 1857, published with the hospital’s Annual Report of that
year, constitutes an early organization of materials. This was the shape that magic
lantern shows would take in popular theaters and halls outside the hospital.
I would like to comment on ‘moral treatment’ and choose a few series of images to
do so, in particular The International Centennial Exposition (1876) because the fair
took place in Philadelphia. The development of Fairmount Park during the late
1860s threw a vast landscape with scenic drives near enough to the Hospital to be
enjoyed by patients. Wilson’s firm produced over two thousand images of the
Centennial and one hundred were selected for the Hospital’s needs.
Then, I would like to put this part of my work in perspective and comment on the
staging of scientific curiosities outside the hospital.
Thomas Kirkbride died in 1883. Under the influence of neurology, the younger
generation of psychiatrists rejected moral treatment but the revival of interest in
‘milieu therapy’ in the United States in the 1950s underlined the contributions
made by Kirkbride in the field of psychiatry.
Researching alternative spaces in the 1970s: the specificities of working on non-institutional entities.
What are the problems we as researchers face when confronted with the study of non-institutional entities? What are the solutions we can offer in response? These are the two questions I will answer through the development of one specific example: the study of alternative spaces in the 1970s in New York and Buffalo (N.Y.). [[Provisional title of my PhD thesis: The Status and Artistic Production of Alternative Spaces in New York and Buffalo, 1969-1980: three case studies. (Title in French: Statut et Production Artistique des Espaces Alternatifs à New York et Buffalo, 1969-1980: 3 études de cas). ]]
In 2009 I chose to study three of these art spaces as a subject for my PhD thesis [[Artists Space in New York, 112 Greene Street Workshop also in New York and Hallwalls, a space located in Buffalo, upstate New York.]] , without being aware that their fragile and marginal status within the art world would determine so many parameters of my subsequent work. And yet, from the composition of a specific corpus of spaces to the methods of investigation I now use, the non-institutional nature of alternative spaces has deeply shaped my work. My intent in this paper is to present how and why.
Alternative spaces were born in the early 1970s in New York and in other important cultural centers in the United States, like Chicago or San Francisco. However, it is in New York that they flourished. From their early beginnings as alternative venues of experimental art, alternative spaces positioned themselves at the margins of the institutional and market-oriented art world of the early 1970s (composed of art galleries and museums mainly) It is the marginality of this status which is at the origin of the expression “alternative spaces”. [[Julie Ault gave an interesting definition of this expression in 2002: «I have applied a fairly broad definition of “alternative structure”, one that considers the roots and missions of organizations claiming to fill a particular kind of void; to counter the status quo of mercantile circuits; to address needs of artists and audiences not addressed elsewhere; or to define themselves as anti-establishment, anti-institutional, experimental, artist-initiated, artist-run, artist centered, or a combination of the above.» Julie Ault, Alternative art New York, 1965-1985 (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), p. 4. ]]
. The non-institutional nature of alternative spaces was at the origin of the first difficulties I faced as a young researcher on this subject, namely that of finding (available) archival documents on their artistic activities. I will first show how the scarcity of archives is inherent to the non-institutional nature of alternative spaces and how this initial difficulty shaped the first steps of my work, from the composition of a specific corpus of spaces to the search for additional primary sources (oral archives, interviews, exhibition catalogues and magazines as indirect sources of primary information).
In the second part of my presentation, I will explain how the non-institutional nature of alternative spaces decided on the two methods of study I use in my academic work on these spaces, the case study and the contextual approach. As non-institutional structures, alternative spaces indeed possess unique identities which require the use of case studies to be fully understood, whereas their oppositional stance as non-institutional entities can only be understood through the study of the political, artistic and economic context in which they are born.
Mark Leon De Vries
Political violence during Reconstruction in Louisiana’s Red River Valley
Throughout Reconstruction, neither the local Republican regimes nor the Federal government succeeded in establishing a viable and legitimate biracial democracy in the South. Despite three constitutional amendments, the various Reconstruction and Enforcement Acts, recurrent military intervention the majority of Southern whites succeeded in wearing down all efforts at fundamental reform through a sustained campaign of political violence and intimidation. This campaign did not so much ‘defeat’ the Reconstruction regimes, supported as they were by the Federal army, but rather undermined the legitimacy of both local and Federal government, which failed to provide the most basic function of any state: security and the rule of law.
Louisiana experienced the most prolonged Reconstruction effort of any Southern state, and often functioned as a testing ground and bellwether for various national policies. The Red River Valley suffered by far the most violence during Reconstruction of any region within Louisiana, and probably in the entire South. This region thus provides an excellent context to study the dynamics by which Southern whites succeeded in undermining the legitimacy of Republican regimes through legal and extra-legal opposition, and in particular through political violence and intimidation.
Developments in Northern public opinion and in national politics sealed the fate of the last Republican regimes in the South in the winter of 1876/’77. Northern support might have been more robust, however, if not for the failure of these regimes to provide a secure and legitimate governments. The failure of both local and Federal government to enforce the rule of law and provide stability within the South in the face of Southern white recalcitrance holds the key to understanding the failure of attempts to reform the South during Reconstruction. In retrospect, this failure in the face of organized violence and intimidation might appear inevitable. The historical record, however, shows that where local Republican leaders and Federal commanders offered a robust response, such violence could be quelled and freedmen could effectively participate in the political process.
Attempts to reform the political, economic, and racial institutions of the South clashed with the regions political and legal culture and would have required a long term commitment by the Federal government for their enforcement. Southern whites prevented this through a strategy of escalating violence and resistance to which neither local authorities nor the Federal government provided an adequate response. The central question this thesis addresses is how various manifestations of local and Federal governments responded to this escalating violence and intimidation throughout the Reconstruction period and why, ultimately, they proved either unable or unwilling to provide even a modicum of security and obedience to the rule of law. This analysis will take into account both structural factors, such as practical, ideological and legal obstacles faced by the Federal and local governments, as well as the practical strategies and repertoires developed by both the Southern whites and government agents in their struggle for dominance in the Red River Valley.
Off to Louisiana: Colonial Officers, “German” Settlers and the Making of the Côte des Allemands, 1720–1820
From 1720 onwards, the so-called German Coast of Louisiana, located about 30 miles upriver from New Orleans, was settled by indentured servants. While originating from various regions of nowadays Germany and different places all over Europe, for instance from Alsace, Hungary or Switzerland, these migrants were altogether marked as Germans by early French census-takers. Accordingly, their settlement was named Côte des Allemands in French and Costa de los Alemanes in Spanish colonial times. The migrants themselves soon came to be known as the Germans of Louisiana. As such they entered the historiographies of colonial Louisiana as hard working man and diligent housewives and mothers (cf. Merrill). They were even to be incorporated into the narratives of the Louisiana Creoles, when nineteenth-century German-American filiopietists declared them to be the “Creoles of German descent” (Deiler).
Taking these observations as a starting point, my dissertation aims at exploring the cultural history of these migrants and at understanding the techniques of cultural labeling that shaped the image of these migrants in history. In depth, while concentrating on the space of the German Coast, the dissertation examines techniques of mapping and surveying, politics of demography and governance, and practices of everyday life and remembering under French, Spanish, and early American administrations. Historical sources considered include maps, land grants and claims, census records, administrative correspondence, sacramental records, memoirs, histories, and travel journals. Analyzing these sources, the dissertation explicitly asks how meaning, knowledge, and certain narratives are produced in colonial contexts and how long-lasting power relations and social hierarchies are being inscribed. Thus, I hope to sharpen our understanding of the formation of Creole culture in Louisiana, its social hierarchies, and its cultural labeling of ethnicities and identities. More generally, I hope to provide a reconceptualization of Creole cultures, hierarchies and identities in the Circum-Caribbean space from 1720 to 1820.
Regarding methodology, the dissertation draws from (German) cultural history (cf. Daniel) and Atlantic History (cf. Games). Especially the concept of cis-Atlantic History is of interest for it offers a way to put the developments and transformations at the German Coast into Atlantic perspective. The dissertation tries, for example, to connect emerging notions about German ethnicity and identity in colonial Louisiana with discussions on nationality, empire and race in France (cf. Vidal). With reference to cultural history, the dissertation means to stress the differences between self-descriptions, ascriptions, and inscriptions when studying the source material. The dissertation will, for instance, emphasize how early colonial descriptions of ‘German’ settlers as laborious were repeated over and over again and, hence, were inscribed into Louisiana’s collective memory. In this very sense, the dissertation hopes to discuss, challenge and deconstruct narratives and historiographies that out of the perception of a colony in crisis design a success story of its early ‘German’ migrants.
Political Architecture as a Nation’s Self-representation: The United States Capitol and the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
My doctoral thesis concerns itself with Washington, D.C. in terms of political architecture. The focus is primarily on iconological analysis of the Capitol of the United States and the National Mall in their historical perspective. The intention is to characterize important visual aspects of self-representation of the American nation. Above and beyond this visual perception, several other aspects also tend to be particularly interesting.
The United States Capitol is one of the distinctive US landmarks known throughout the world. It serves as an embodiment of democracy in the capital of each federal state. As is generally known, several European temples and cathedrals served stylistically and architecturally as prototypes for the building. Its significance is being variously accentuated through its size, use of forms and topography. However, above all else, the Capitol is a temple of popular government in its every possible manifestation which makes it truly unique. While constructed as a dome in its design vocabulary, the Capitol symbolizes United States’ democratic practices.
The history of construction of the Capitol, its placement specifics within the landscape of the capital city as well as awareness of citizens in dealing with this national symbol greatly aid in understanding the nature of American society. Yet a study of mere optical appearance of the building, disclosing the stunning symbolism in the Capitol can hardly suffice in achieving complete comprehension of the cultural significance of the Capitol to the Nation. One needs, moreover, to apply certain imponderables revealed through the symbols and conception of the building in relation to the cultural history of the country. It is therefore of essential importance to make use of analysis methods of history and cultural anthropology in order to fully grasp the emotional significance conveyed by the Capitol.
The American community spirit finds its expression in staging an exceptional visual and design culture. This is particularly remarkable in maintaining a comprehensive planning approach to what is commonly referred to as the Monumental Core of Washington, D.C. In this context, the mere building envelope of the Congress cannot be of exclusive interest, because the understanding of American democracy implies first and foremost participation of its citizens in the process of building political awareness. This framework, for instance, is consequently practiced by ingenuously and effectively integrating public spaces into the dynamics of everyday life. The National Mall which was pointedly designed to serve both people and politics, seems to be crucial in this respect. In combination with the Capitol, the National Mall creates a successful approach to political communication. Here, one might find a piazza-tradition of a sort where leisure and relaxation coexist with political opposition and demonstration under the wings of the common national symbol of Congress. The aim of the study is to show that the United States Capitol turns out not to be solitary in creating a visual aura of the American Nation. It appears to be dependent on a broad range of relationships in order to serve as a temple of democracy.