President’s Message 2017

As our teaching semesters begin again across Australia it feels rather like the start of the year, even if we have all been involved in committees and ARC applications for some time now. ASFS 2016 certainly seems a long time ago. I nonetheless wanted to take the time to thank the people involved in organising what was — in true Adelaide style — a terrific conference. Notably, thanks go to the committee (UNISA’s Chris Hogarth and Saige Walton, and Adelaide’s Natalie Edwards and Ben McCann) who worked tirelessly throughout the event. I should especially like to thank them for the conference dinner at the National Wine Centre of Australia, which was one of the best I can remember.

twitter3-asfs2016We had some memorable keynote addresses from Liverpool’s Professor Charles Forsdick, who was, alongside Nottingham’s Emeritus Professor Nick Hewitt, ever-present throughout the event, giving advice, asking questions and generally effusing bonhomie, from our own ASFS Vice-President, Professor Véronique Duché, whose research perfectly captured the conference theme of Mobilities and Migrations, and from Iowa’s Professor Stephen Ungar, whose delightful presentation of what he called a Proustian Cinema capped off some wonderful discussions of film at the conference (indeed, I was struck by the depth that ASFS now has in this area). It was good to see all our overseas visitors stay until the very last, which may have had something to do with the wine-tasting organised and presented by Jackie Dutton (who else?) and Amie Sexton (and paid for by ASFS — and why not?). Thanks to Jackie and Amie for this concept, and to Natalie and Chris for cellaring and transporting (and not drinking) the wine before the event.

The dovetailing of ASFS 2016 with the ISFAR colloquium “French Australian Relations: The Field Today”, organised by Emeritus Professor Colin Nettelbeck and attended by a number of ASFS participants proved to be a logical pooling of forces: it was both an enjoyable day and a good example of interdisciplinarity. We hope to maintain links between the two associations and their conferences into the future. We also encourage colleagues to consider publishing work in the society’s journal The French Australian Review.

jwsThe last three things I want to single out from the conference cover the ASFS spectrum. First, it was encouraging to see such a strong HDR presence at the conference, and especially so many students from Melbourne. I attended as many presentations as I could and was impressed as ever by the quality on display (I have since even cited Françoise Campbell’s paper!). From the strong presence of HDRs we moved seamlessly, albeit over various gangplanks, to the strongly maritime presence of Adelaide’s own Professor John West-Sooby who, as Natalie has since pointed out, became the first ASFS speaker to deliver his lecture on board ship, with his slides billowing, as it were, in the sails. John’s presentation at the SA Maritime Museum and the exhibition “The Art of Science: Baudin’s Voyagers 1800-1804” were amazing, both for their quality and humour, but also because of the enormous amount of work that they represented. Lastly, I wanted to thank the New Zealand contingent, and especially Canterbury’s Antonio Viselli, who actually (and in front of witnesses) offered to host ASFS in New Zealand in the future. Despite, or because of, the fact that this offer came at a time when wine was flowing, it was genuine food for thought.

On the committee front, the only change for this year is the departure of UTS’s Julie Robert as Postgraduate Officer. Julie is well-known to colleagues for her dynamism and her almost intimidating organisational skills. In this particular role she has become known to us as a champion of postgraduate students, tirelessly advocating for their training and involvement in the conference. We should like to thank her for her work in this area, which will of course not end with her stepping down from this role. We should also like to extend our thanks to, and welcome to the executive committee, ANU’s Gemma King, who takes up the role this year and will be well-placed to organise postgraduate events at ASFS 2017, which will be held at ANU in December.

Our thanks also go to our new attaché, Nicolas Duhaut, who came to our AGM at UNISA to discuss his ideas for improving, amongst other things, the Baudin scheme. The executive committee have been really pleased to be able to begin work with Nicolas on this and look forward to ongoing developments in 2017. Notably, the Embassy’s collaboration with ANU for this year’s conference promises to make for an excellent event.

twitter-asfs2016And, of course, thanks to all of you for your continued support. By attending the conference and joining us to share ideas, discuss common problems and plan collaborative ventures, you all help to make French Studies in Australia a culture that continues to draw in and impress scholars and friends from overseas.

Lastly, good luck to you all for your teaching and research in 2017.

Alistair Rolls
28 February 2017

ASFS 2017 Call for Papers

Australian Society for French Studies Conference 2017

Truth and Representation 

The Australian National University, 13-15 December


Confirmed keynote speakers:

Professor Nicki Hitchcott, University of St Andrews

Dr Chris Watkin, Monash University


What is truth and how do we represent it? For centuries philosophers, artists, theologians, and political thinkers have reflected on the nature of truth, each exploring the various rhetorical and visual strategies with which we might render its universality and its relativity. When we talk about truth, we call upon objectivity, authenticity, and verifiability. But we also inevitably evoke subjectivity, artifice, and mendacity. Indeed, to talk about truth is to recognise its intimate connection to lies.

In our current political climate, terms such as ‘post-truth’ and ‘fake news’ have become ubiquitous. In the wake of Brexit and the American presidential election, and leading up to the 2017 French election, politicians and the media continually call the status of truth and representation into question. How are we to determine what truth is when facts are manipulated to reflect and reinforce the opinions we already hold? How are we to retain our grasp on reality when we see our world increasingly through the mediation of the screen? Such questions bring to mind a much broader problematic surrounding our understanding of social, cultural, and political reality in the light of myriad and ever-evolving ideologies and theoretical orientations.

This conference seeks to reflect on these questions within French and Francophone Studies. What role can our interdisciplinary research play in negotiating the problems of truth and representation in the 21st century, from cultural studies and politics to literature and film? Our aim is to address these problems from a multiplicity of methodological approaches and areas of focus.

We invite proposals for individual papers (20 minutes) and for panels (3-4 papers of 20 minutes each) related to the theme of truth and representation. We will also consider proposals that do not conform directly to this theme. Possible topics for discussion may include, but are not limited to:

  • Philosophical, theoretical, and historical/historiographical understandings of truth-making
  • Representations of Otherness
  • Reflections on language and the shaping of political discourse
  • The role of truth in education, including plagiarism and academic dishonesty in the language classroom
  • Film and the fluid boundaries of audio-visual representation
  • Embodied truths, psychic truths, lived realities
  • National myths and the politics of migration
  • Life-writing/ Representing the truth of the self
  • Truth and religious pluralism
  • Postmodernism and post-truth
  • Representation in (applied) linguistics and second language acquisition
  • Imagination, or the truth of fiction


Please send your proposal of 250 words for papers in English or French to by 3 July 2017.

Organising committee: Leslie Barnes, Ashok Collins, Solène Inceoglu, and Gemma King, ANU.


Vérité et Représentation

The Australian National University, 13-15 décembre


Séances plénières confirmées:

Professor Nicki Hitchcott, University of St Andrews

Dr Chris Watkin, Monash University


Qu’est-ce la vérité et comment la représenter ? Pendant des siècles des philosophes, artistes, théologiens, et penseurs politiques ont réfléchi à la nature de la vérité, explorant de diverses stratégies visuelles et rhétoriques pour comprendre son universalité et sa relativité. Quand nous parlons de la vérité, nous évoquons l’objectivité, l’authenticité, et la vérifiabilité. Mais de façon inévitable, nous évoquons aussi la subjectivité, l’artifice, et la fausseté. En fait, parler de la vérité est reconnaître sa relation intime avec le mensonge.

Dans notre climat politique actuel, des termes tels que ‘post-vérité’ et ‘fausses nouvelles’ sont devenus omniprésents. A la suite du Brexit et l’élection présidentielle américaine, et précédant l’élection française de 2017, les politiciens et les médias remettent sans cesse en cause la vérité et la représentation. Comment définir la vérité quand nous manipulons les faits pour refléter et renforcer nos opinions établies ? Comment assurer notre connexion avec la réalité quand nous percevons le monde de plus en plus souvent à travers la médiation de l’écran ? De telles questions engendrent une problématique beaucoup plus large sur notre compréhension de la réalité sociale, culturelle, et politique au vu de toute une myriade d’idéologies et d’orientations théoriques en perpétuelle évolution.

Cette conférence vise à considérer ces questions dans le cadre des études françaises et francophones. Comment nos recherches interdisciplinaires peuvent-elles faire face aux questions de vérité et de représentation dans le XXIe siècle, soient-elles en études culturelles ou en sciences politiques, en littérature ou en cinéma ? Notre but est d’aborder ces problèmes depuis une multiplicité de perspectives et d’approches méthodologiques.

Nous invitons des propositions de communications individuelles (20 minutes) et de groupes (3-4 communications de 20 minutes chacune) autour du thème ‘vérité et représentation’. Nous considérerons aussi des interventions qui ne se conforment pas directement à ce thème. Quelques sujets possibles comprennent, mais ne se limitent pas à :

  • Conceptions philosophiques, théoriques, et historiques / historiographiques de la vérité
  • Représentations d’autrui
  • Réflexions sur le langage et la formation du discours politique
  • Le rôle de la vérité dans l’éducation, y compris le plagiat et la malhonnêteté dans les cours de langue
  • Cinéma et les limites fluides de la représentation audio-visuelle
  • Vérités incarnées, vérités psychiques, réalités vécues
  • Mythes nationaux et politique de migration
  • (Auto)biographie / Représenter la vérité du soi
  • Vérité et pluralisme religieux
  • Postmodernisme et post-vérité
  • Représentation dans la linguistique (appliquée) et l’acquisition des langues étrangères
  • Imagination, ou vérité de fiction


Veuillez envoyer des propositions de 250 mots pour des interventions en anglais ou en français à avant le 3 juillet 2017.

Comité : Leslie Barnes, Ashok Collins, Solène Inceoglu, and Gemma King, ANU.