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.
We 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.
The 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.
And, 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.
28 February 2017