from Alistair Rolls and Greg Hainge
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.
CALL FOR PAPERS
5th Biennial Colloquium of LCNAU
Deadline: 30 April 2019
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 testing
- Language and society
- Language acquisition
- Language policy
- 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;
- social conventions;
- etiquette and politeness;
- gender constructs;
- religious precepts;
- generic conventions;
- formal constraints;
- research protocols;
- conflicting epistemologies;
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;
- civil disobedience;
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
- conventions sociales
- étiquette et politesse
- les concepts de genre
- préceptes religieux
- conventions génériques
- contraintes formelles
- 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
- désobéissance civile
- déviance, déviation et clinamen
- la transgression
- 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 email@example.com 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)
Applications for the 2019 Nicolas Baudin program are now open!
The program consists of two application streams:
General Stream – Nicolas Baudin Travel Grant
Students enrolled at an Australian university and taking part in an exchange program /study abroad at a French establishment or hoping to pursue a full degree (including double degrees) may apply for the Nicolas Baudin Travel Grant. The Travel Grant consists of a return ticket between Australia and France. Laureates are also covered by Campus France mutual insurance and exempt from visa fees.
For more information on eligibility requirements and how to apply:https://au.ambafrance.org/Nicolas-Baudin-Program
Internships in France Initiative
30 internships in France have been proposed by French universities and industry partners for Australian students. In addition to the travel grant, laureates benefit from a funding scheme involving a $2500 mobility grant from their home university and a monthly stipend from the host institution. For a list of internship offers and information on how to apply, please visithttps://au.ambafrance.org/Nicolas-Baudin-Program-Internship-in-France-initiative
The deadline for applications is April 15.
At the ASFS 2018 annual meeting at University of Western Australia (Perth) this year, two long time members of our organisation received honorary life memberships to mark our twenty-fifth anniversary. Congratulations to Professor Brian Nelson (Monash) and Professor Colin Nettelbeck (Melbourne)!
Professor Nelson was instrumental in founding ASFS in 1993, and both he and Professor Nettelbeck have made outstanding contributions to French Studies across their careers. We are honoured to have them amongst our members.
Applications for the 2019 round of the English Language Teaching Assistants programs in Metropolitan France and overseas departments are now open!
This program is designed to give students the opportunity to discover a new region and culture by working alongside an English teacher in a French school environment. It is not aimed at experienced teachers, and whether or you intend to become a language teacher, it is a fantastic opportunity to gain seven months of paid international experience, which is invaluable on a student’s CV.
All information, including details of the role, the contract, eligibility requirements and how to apply are available on the embassy’s website here: