President’s Welcome 2020

Dear ASFS members,

‘Unprecedented’ seems to be the word of 2020. From the bushfires that ravaged the country at the beginning of the year to the current spread of COVID-19, the first three months of this year have affected daily life in many unexpected ways.

We first send our solidarity to all our members. Many of us are currently grappling with new ways of delivering course content, new modes of communicating with colleagues, new forms of postgraduate supervision and new budgetary constraints. We as scholars of the Humanities are experts in adaptation; innovating our teaching and research is, after all, the core of our professional activity. Yet, the innovation demanded of us now in order to do our best for our students and colleagues is… unprecedented. The Society aims to offer support to its members during this time and we urge you to contact us with your concerns.

In particular, the Society has several members who are experts in online teaching who are happy to share their experiences. The MLA has also developed a list of resources that may be of help:

Moreover, as many of us are being encouraged to work from home, the Society is very willing to offer support. Working from home presents issues for many of us and we urge members to take additional care of their physical and mental health. We are particularly concerned for our postgraduates, ECRs and members on casual contracts. Members may be interested to read the recent article on WFH from the Campus Morning Mail:

At present we are continuing to make plans for our 2020 conference: 1-4 December at Te Herenga Waka/Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. We have all been looking forward to holding our first conference in New Zealand. Our colleagues Jean Anderson, Charles Rice-Davis, Yuri Cerqueira dos Anjos and France Grenaudier-Klijn have already done a remarkable amount of preparatory work. We will continue to monitor the situation in order to ensure the safety of our members.

Let’s also take a moment to think back to our wonderful 2019 conference in Parramatta, Sydney, and to thank Valentina Gosetti, Chris Andrews and Sophie Patrick for their creativity, organisation and academic generosity. Many of us have very fond memories of the panels, the plenary sessions, the conviviality and the amazing dinner under the Sydney Harbour bridge.

Let’s also again thank our outgoing President Véronique Duché, who led the Society with enthusiasm and aplomb for two years, and our outgoing Postgraduate Office Sophie Patrick, who organised postgraduate sessions and prizes for several years. I am grateful to the members who have agreed to serve on the Executive Committee this year: Ben McCann (Vice President), Chris Hogarth (Treasurer), Leslie Barnes (Secretary), Gemma King (Editor of Publications) and Clara Sitbon (Postgraduate Officer). Gemma has already made several changes to the Society’s website, including resources and publications, and increased our social media presence. I encourage you to bookmark our site ( and to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

We will soon be in touch with two initiatives for this year: a survey of our current members and the mentoring program we discussed at the 2019 AGM. We will also be holding our annual Postgraduate Essay prize, co-sponsored by the Australian Journal for French Studies, to be announced shortly. For now, please take good care of yourselves and each other and let us know how we can help.

Warm wishes,

Natalie Edwards

ASFS President

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