Long-time ASFS member Professor John West-Sooby was this week awarded the prestigious Prix du professeur de français de l’année for the tertiary sector by the Federation of Associations of Teachers of French in Australia (FATFA), supported by the French Embassy in Australia. John is retiring from the University of Adelaide this year and it is thus a very timely award for him to receive, recognising as it does his decades of service as a French teacher and researcher, a mentor, and a champion for the promotion of French at a national level.
A virtual event co-hosted with the French Embassy will be held on Thursday 26 November where nominees will ‘receive’ their award. John will also be interviewed by SBS French radio prior to the event.
Please join us in congratulating our very worthy colleague!
Australian Society for French Studies statement on Higher Education funding
The Australian Society for French Studies is extremely concerned over the proposed changes in Higher Education funding. While many disciplines across HASS and STEM subjects will be negatively affected by the proposed changes, Humanities disciplines will be hardest hit. While we welcome the government’s recognition that English and languages can contribute significantly to students’ employability, it is our strongly held view that all Humanities disciplines do so. Modern Languages, the area in which we mostly work, includes disciplines such as history, film studies, philosophy and cultural studies, which are destined to suffer especially under these proposed measures. We are concerned for the Humanities, for the University sector in general, and for the students we serve.
We echo the sentiments of Prof. Joy Damousi, President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, who commented “Evidence shows that the skills and knowledge from humanities and social sciences training – including critical thinking, communication skills and understanding the impact of change on humanity – are highly valued by employers and in the workforce. There is a clear disconnect in the government’s thinking around the issue of qualifications and employment. Disincentivising studies in humanities courses will actually have the opposite effect to that intended by the government. It will directly and adversely impact the government’s future jobs agenda.”
Importantly, the Australian Academy of Science has expressed similar reservations, stating that “The Australian Academy of Science stands with the nation’s other learned academies in expressing concerns about the implications of the announced package across all scientific and academic disciplines. Our society needs scientists, but it would be poorer if not for people educated in the arts, social sciences, management, commerce, law and the humanities. Scientists know that all knowledge is multidisciplinary, and a system that silos knowledge and values one sort of knowledge over another will fail Australians.”
We believe that disincentivising the study of the Humanities impoverishes our students, our workforce and the future competitivity of our nation. Amidst the current crisis and the inevitable rethinking of global relations, such a move is even more concerning.
We call on Members of Parliament to develop an equitable funding policy that awards choices and intellectual opportunities to all of our students.
Support to our DECRA applicants
The ASFS is committed to supporting our ECR members, whom we consider to be the future of our discipline. In the spirit of the formal mentoring program the ASFS is developing this year, we would like to extend our support to ECR members with their DECRA applications. If any of you would like support in the process of writing your rejoinders, due 7 July 2020, please email President Natalie Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘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.
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 (https://australiansocietyforfrenchstudies.com) 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.
In the light of its commitment to international mobility within French Studies, the Society offers funding for a grant to support an annual Visiting International Fellowship, tenable in any UK or Irish university, or institution of higher education in the UK or Ireland, to enable outstanding academics in the French Studies field based in overseas universities to spend time at UK or Irish higher education institutions.
The Embassy of France is pleased to remind you that two calls for projects are currently open to support academic collaborations with French partners:
1)The Nicolas Baudin “internships in France initiative”
The Nicolas Baudin “Internship in France” initiative offers students from participating Australian universities the opportunity to undertake a research internship at a French host university in collaboration with an industry partner. The internship offers are jointly created by the French host university and its industry partner, and when relevant with the Australian partner university if the intern is enrolled within the framework of a pre-existing scientific collaboration.
The Laureates programs in France are co-financed by the Embassy, the hosting university in France and the home university in Australia.
French companies Naval Group and Thales also support this program.
The call for internship topics is now open until 31 January, 2020. The French institutions will propose their topics after discussion with their industry partners. However it is highly recommended that the Australian universities are part of this conversation from the beginning. The most successful projects so far took place as part of a pre-exisiting collaboration between a French and an Australian uni. Therefore we encourage you to contact your French partners, mention the program to them and see how it can be used to nurture your partnerships.
For more information about the program, click here.
2)The Creative France short program
The Embassy of France in Australia is supporting the establishment of short-term programs in the form of summer (or winter) schools co-organised by French and Australian tertiary education institutions, and bringing together students from both countries around a theme of common interest.
The selected project benefits from the Creative France Australia label as well as financial support from the embassy up to 4000 € (approx. 6300 $ AU, subject to current exchange rate) to contribute toward the organisation costs of the school.
Embassy funding is awarded to the Australian university participating in the project.
The deadline for application is 28 February, 2020.
For more information about the program, click here.
Joint 66th Society for French Historical Studies Conference and
22nd George Rudé Seminar in French History and Civilisation 7-10 July 2020, Auckland, NZ
‘France and Beyond: the Global World of ‘Ngāti Wīwī’.
[Tribe ‘Oui Oui’ was the local name for the French in nineteenth-century NZ.]
In July 2020 to a theme of ‘France and Beyond’, the first ever joint meeting of the George Rudé Seminar and the Society for French Historical Studies Conference will be held in Auckland. This special conference marks a departure from the norms of both societies while preserving and promoting the atmosphere and the intimacy of intellectual exchange nurtured and valued by both. It brings closer together chercheurs and scholars of French History, and welcomes those members of the wider global fraternity of French Historians to ally themselves to their colleagues in Auckland. Leading scholars from the US, UK and Europe will be keynote guests including Professor Sophie Wahnich, Directeur de l’institut interdisciplinaire d’anthropologie du contemporain (IIAC) CNRS, Professor Pierre Serna, Director of the IHRF, Paris I, Sorbonne, and Dan Smail, Professor of History at Harvard University, and many American and international colleagues have already signalled their intention to attend.
The organisers invite the submission of panels, roundtables, and individual papers (papers should be fifteen to twenty minutes) on any aspect of French History, Medieval to Contemporary. Areas of traditional French historical research will be featured alongside popular themes: Citizenship in the Medieval and Early Modern European world; the Revolutionary period and its environmental impact in the wider Atlantic world; and changing approaches to French or Franco-British History in the NZ/Australasian and Pacific region – in Océanie.
Please submit proposals of 300 words per speaker and a biographical profile of 100 words. Panels will of course be welcome if the panellists are all committed to coming to NZ. Comment will be by the audience, and we would welcome volunteers who would be willing and able to chair sessions. The deadline for proposals is 15 January 2020.
Please allow us to remind you that participants from North America must be members in good standing of the Society for French Historical Studies. Other scholars are warmly invited to join the Society, as well, although there is no obligation to do so.
For any other questions do not hesitate to contact
Afin de commémorer les événements tragiques à Christchurch du 15 mars dernier, nous avons dédié notre émission radio de « Paris s’éveille » (sur la radio communautaire de Plains FM) à notre ville et à la Journée internationale de la poésie. Vous trouverez ci-dessous le message publicitaire qui circule sur les réseaux sociaux. Si vous souhaitez écouter l’émission en podcast, vous pouvez y accéder sur le site suivant :
Dans cette émission, nous remercions officiellement l’ASFS pour son soutien et sa solidarité. Un grand merci aux collègues de l’ASFS pour les messages personnels que vous nous avez envoyés.
Tonight’s show is a very special one: it is dedicated to Christchurch on International Poetry Day. Still recovering from devastating earthquakes for the last 8 years, Christchurch was victim to a tragic event that was anything but natural. Tonight, beyond the language of radicalization and hate speech that has received much media attention, we have preferred to respond with the power of words grounded in love, resistance, and tolerance.
Tune in this evening for a celebration of language and poems from French and Francophone writers from across the Francosphere. “Paris s’éveille” is honoured to be sharing poems dedicated to Christchurch following the tragic events of March 15 from world-renowned poets such as Katy Rémy, Tanella Boni, Maggy de Coster, and Hédi Bouraoui, including hitherto unpublished material.
En solidarité – Kia kaha,
Antonio Viselli, PhD
Lecturer/French Subject Coordinator
School of Language, Social, and Political Sciences
Greg and I started our journeys at Nottingham University as undergraduates in October 1990. They were days when the university experience was rather different, and I for one, as a first-in-family student from a working-class family was entirely out of my comfort zone. And I couldn’t have been happier. Among all the personalities who made up the French Department at Nottingham in those days (my memories are of academics with brilliant minds and teachers with “stage presence”) few lecturers could command a room better than Nick Hewitt. He was renowned for his dry and cutting wit but, above all, for his ability to fill students with awe while also – and this is a gift – getting his message through purposefully and didactically. I remember going into my final year knowing the department’s professor for his occasional lectures in team-taught literature courses and was surprised by the way that he engaged students in his courses on Céline (I read both Voyage au bout de la nuit and Mort à crédit twice that year, and I suspect that Greg would have done the same) and the popular culture of the Fourth Republic, but also his classes on journalistic French rhythm, which marked me deeply and which I have tried, with less success, to incorporate in my own language classes since. Greg went on to do a PhD on Céline, while I followed my interest in Vian, and we both had Nick as supervisor. It was in those years (1994 to 1998) that I discovered a true kindness that some people may not have suspected beneath the often confrontingly intellectual exterior. He had a reputation for not suffering fools gladly, but he suffered me… And he supported me, often quietly and behind the scenes, and guided me to a successful outcome, something for which I shall be forever grateful. The most complimentary words he ever said about my work were not said to me, but instead to my parents, on the day of my PhD graduation ceremony. They felt more out of place there than I did (and to this day I hesitate as I walk onto university campuses for the first time), and those words meant more to them than he perhaps realized. That was very much a mark of the man.
Of his academic works, I shall always remember The Golden Age of Louis-Ferdinand Céline (Bloomsbury, 1987), France and the Mass Media (Palgrave Macmillan, 1991), which he edited Brian Rigby, which I read as an undergraduate, and his article on La Nausée, “Looking for Annie” (Journal of European Studies, 1982), which was a pioneering study of the novel’s other, non-philosophical side. Lastly, having discussed its progress with him over the years, I am yet to read Montmartre: A Cultural History. I plan to read it now, but it will be with a heavy heart. I owe Nick Hewitt a great deal and I shall miss his mentorship, his wit and his unfailing support.
“Nous voici encore seuls. Tout cela est si lent, si lourd, si triste… Bientôt je serai vieux. Et ce sera enfin fini.”
How else to begin a reflection on the life of Nick Hewitt than with these opening lines of Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s second novel, Mort à credit. Given the fundamentally biological, medical vision of existence that permeates le Docteur Destouches’ literary universe, death is the only possible “vérité de ce monde” (Voyage au bout de la nuit). Given this, given the time that I have spent pondering such matters, thanks to Nick who introduced me to the works of Céline, one might think that news of his passing would be less of a shock, would seem less unreal.
More the fool me, for Bardamu continues his musing on death as follows: “La vérité de ce monde c’est la mort. Il faut choisir, mourir ou mentir. Je n’ai jamais pu me tuer moi”. Death, then, is our only truth, but it is one we attempt to dissimulate by telling stories that pretend this is not so, that there is some way to offset the crushing absurdity of a life thus defined, to laugh in the face of this very bleakest of visions and thus have the will to carry on living.
Now then is a time for telling stories, for remembering fondly how Nick lived and worked according to this kind of principle.
In his academic writing, Nick was an exemplary storyteller with a flair for readability that unfortunately didn’t always rub off on his doctoral students – don’t worry, I’m having a dig at myself, Alistair! His work The Golden Age of Louis-Ferdinand Céline remains to my mind the best critical work on Céline’s novels in the English language; it uncovered archival information never previously published that radically changed the interpretation of some key aspects of Céline’s novels, presented an incredibly rich and complex analysis of the texts that unpacked their deep and irreverent engagement with the (at the time) emergent theory of psychoanalysis, and yet managed to remain very accessible. His biography of Céline published with Blackwell went further still, being meticulous in its attention to detail and scholarly rigour while being a real page-turner.
That he managed so successfully to walk this fine line between erudition, rigour and readability is perhaps due to two things. Firstly, as Alistair notes, he had a reputation for not suffering fools gladly or, to put this slightly differently, he was not afraid to cut to the chase and call a cat a cat. This propensity for brutal honesty could be confronting to say the least: having read through what I thought was the final version of my thesis, I remember him saying to me, “it’s great, but it’s not a thesis”. Having picked myself up from the floor, our subsequent discussion about what precisely that meant remains one of the most valuable conversations I have had for thinking about my own writing and the advice that I provide to my students.
As well as talking and writing straight, though, the other key to the success of Nick’s work is the obvious love of the material that can be felt in his writing. This extends from his early work on Céline, through his mid-career work on other writers whose political positioning provides an alternative history of the inter-war years, perhaps reaching its apogee in his late career work on places in France dear to his heart. As surely befits its subject matter, Colin Jones concludes his review of Nick’s 2017 volume Montmartre: A Cultural History by noting that, “there is pleasure aplenty in this subtle and highly evocative account”. Let us then hope that we will soon have the opportunity to find more pleasure still in the pages of the book on Marseille that Nick was working on. “I’m in the final stages of sending the manuscript for the Marseille book off to the publishers, but, at the moment, it’s more or less on schedule”, he wrote to me in January. And this is wonderful news indeed, because if the stories we tell make life bearable while we are here, they also provide those who survive us, who cared for us and thus mourn us some small consolation when, finally, we can lie no more and must face the truth.
Conference: 27-29 November 2019, University of Western Australia
The Fifth Biennial Colloquium of the Languages & Cultures Network of Australian Universities will be held at the University of Western Australia on 27-29 November 2019.
Confirmed keynote speakers are: Charles Forsdick (Liverpool), Joseph Lo Bianco (Melbourne), Jakelin Troy (Sydney).
“Exchanges: people, knowledge, cultures”
The movement of students and staff is an inherent part of language learning. The benefits of such exchange flow in both directions: language learners encounter a new set of linguistic and cultural parameters through which to make sense of the world and the ‘native speakers’ of that culture also benefit by encountering those who are entering their language and culture from different and often challenging perspectives. The two-way exchange of linguistic competence and cultural knowledge – between Indigenous and non-Indigenous, teachers and students, international students and Australian hosts, Australians studying abroad and their overseas hosts and contacts – is enriching to all and a key contribution our disciplines make to building a better world.
LCNAU invites abstracts and panel proposals from scholars, practitioners, early career researchers and postgraduate students. We especially invite contributions relating to the following areas:
Indigenous languages: description, maintenance and use
Motivation and language learning
Language and culture nexus
Language and identity
Technology in teaching and learning language and culture
Models and approaches in teaching and learning language and culture
Language and society
Translation and interpretation
For full guide to submissions procedure and details about the conference, please see the conference homepage:
Australian Society for French Studies Annual Conference 2019
Making and Breaking Rules
University of New England – Western Sydney University
Location: UNE Sydney
10-12 December 2019
When we speak, write and act, when we produce and interpret culture, we are consciously or unconsciously following rules of various kinds. But what does it mean to follow a rule? What are the consequences of failing to do so? Who has the power to institute and enforce rules? How can rules be modified or dissolved?
These general questions can be sharpened in specific domains of French, Francophone, and Comparative studies, interpreted in the widest possible way:
how do generic conventions shape our expectations and guide our reception of literary works, films, television drama and other cultural products?
how can generic conventions encode social values?
how do specific works break with conventions and what kinds of impact can this have?
is cultural innovation always a matter of breaking rules?
how do new rules arise and spread?
how has the history of France, and of French colonization and decolonization, shaped specific approaches to rewriting social and political rules?
how can a universalism of rules (“one rule for all”) correct or reinforce injustices, depending on the situation?
to what degree is accuracy and aptness in language use and translation a matter of conformity to rules?
when and how should rules of grammar and usage be taught in the language classroom?
how should non-standard grammar and usage be presented in teaching?
what effects have regulatory bodies had on the evolution of French as it is used throughout the Francophone world?
Participants are encouraged to reflect on rules broadly conceived, as:
laws and regulations;
political programs and platforms;
norms of ability and disability;
etiquette and politeness;
and to consider a range of rule-making and -breaking practices:
prescription and legislation;
the making explicit and codification of existing practices;
preservation and recovery of traditional wisdom;
discretion in the application of rules;
deviance, deviation and clinamen;
tradition and innovation;
law enforcement and crime.
We invite proposals for individual papers (20 minutes) and for panels (three papers of 20 minutes each) related to the theme of making and breaking rules. We will also consider proposals that do not relate directly to this theme.
Please send your proposal of 250 words for papers in English or French, or suggestion of panels, to email@example.com by Monday 6 May 2019.
Deadline for submitting proposals for papers/panels: 6 May 2019
Notification of acceptance: June 2019
Early-bird registration: ends 4 September 2019
Full registration: 5 September 2019 onwards
Postgraduate session: Monday 9 December 2019
Conference Organising Committee
Chris Andrews (Western Sydney University), Valentina Gosetti & Sophie Patrick (University of New England)
The ASFS Annual Conference 2019 will blend with the conference
The Effects of the Oulipo: Impact, Continuities, Appropriations, Reactions
11-13 December 2019
Organising committee: Chris Andrews (Western Sydney University), Christelle Reggiani (Université de Paris IV), Christophe Reig (Université de Perpignan), Hermes Salceda (Universidad de Vigo).
Colloque annuel de l’Australian Society for French Studies 2019
Règles et dérèglements
University of New England – Western Sydney University
10-12 décembre 2019
Lorsque nous parlons, écrivons et agissons, lorsque nous produisons et interprétons la culture, nous suivons consciemment ou inconsciemment des règles de différentes sortes. Mais que veut dire suivre une règle ? Quelles sont les conséquences de ne pas le faire? Qui a le pouvoir d’instituer et de faire respecter les règles ? Comment les règles peuvent-elles être modifiées ou dissoutes ?
Ces questions générales pourront être affinées dans des domaines spécifiques au sein des études françaises, francophones et comparées, interprétées de la manière la plus large possible :
Comment les conventions génériques façonnent-elles nos attentes et guident-elles notre réception d’œuvres littéraires, de films, de séries télévisées et d’autres produits culturels ?
comment les conventions génériques peuvent-elles encoder des valeurs sociales ?
comment des œuvres spécifiques rompent-elles avec les conventions et quels types d’impact cela peut-il avoir ?
l’innovation culturelle est-elle toujours une question de violation des règles ?
comment les nouvelles règles apparaissent-elles et se propagent-elles ?
comment l’histoire de la France, de la colonisation et de la décolonisation françaises a-t-elle façonné des approches spécifiques de réécriture des règles sociales et politiques ?
comment un universalisme de règles (« une règle pour tous ») peut-il corriger ou renforcer les injustices, selon la situation ?
dans quelle mesure l’exactitude et l’aptitude à utiliser une langue et à traduire sont-elles une question de conformité aux règles ?
quand et comment les règles de grammaire et d’utilisation doivent-elles être enseignées en classe de langue ?
comment faut-il présenter la grammaire et l’usage non standard dans l’enseignement ?
quels effets les organismes de réglementation ont-ils eu sur l’évolution du français tel qu’il est utilisé dans le monde francophone ?
Les participants sont encouragés à réfléchir sur les règles au sens le plus large, dans différents domaines possibles :
lois et règlements
programmes et plateformes politiques
normes d’aptitude et d’invalidité
étiquette et politesse
les concepts de genre
protocoles de recherche
épistémologies en conflit
et envisager un éventail de pratiques d’établissement de règles et de rupture :
prescription et législation
explicitation et codification des pratiques existantes
préservation et récupération de la sagesse traditionnelle
discrétion dans l’application des règles
déviance, déviation et clinamen
tradition et innovation
application de la loi et criminalité
Nous sollicitons des propositions de communications individuelles (20 minutes) et de panels (trois communications de 20 minutes chacune) sur le thème de l’établissement et de la violation des règles. Nous examinerons également les propositions qui ne concernent pas directement ce thème.
Veuillez envoyer votre proposition de 250 mots pour des communications en anglais ou en français, ou une suggestion de panel, à firstname.lastname@example.org avant le lundi 6 mai 2019.
Date limite de soumission des propositions de communications / panels : 6 mai 2019
Notification d’acceptation : juin 2019
Inscription early-bird : se termine le 4 septembre 2019
Inscription complète : à partir du 5 septembre 2019
Séance dédiée aux doctorants : lundi 9 décembre 2019
Chris Andrews (Western Sydney University), Valentina Gosetti et Sophie Patrick (University of New England)
Le colloque annuel de l’ASFS 2019 accompagnera le colloque: Les effets de l’Oulipo : Impact, continuités, détournements,réactions
11-13 décembre 2019
Comité d’organisation : Chris Andrews (Western Sydney University), Christelle Reggiani (Université de Paris IV), Christophe Reig (Université de Perpignan), Hermes Salceda (Universidad de Vigo)