The ASFS is happy to announce that it is extending the mentorship program to continue encouraging career support for colleagues. As with last year, colleagues may seek mentorship for a specific professional goal, such as a promotion application, job search or grant application, and mentees may include but are not limited to postgraduate and ECR candidates. If you are currently working with a mentor/mentee and would like to continue that relationship, you’re most welcome to continue. But this can also be an opportunity to create new relationships, to get input and ideas from other colleagues should you wish. You may also consider taking on a new role; if you’ve been acting as a mentor and would like to be a mentee (or vice versa), please let us know by submitting an EOI:
As with last year, mentees will be paired with a suitable member of the Society able to advise on their goals, and each pair will decide how often and where to communicate (ex. skype, email) depending on their needs. This is an informal and collegial initiative designed to support colleagues at a range of stages in their academic careers.
Please fill out and return the attached form and return it to Secretary Dr Leslie Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org by 21 May 2021.
We hope this finds you all safe and well, especially after the tumult of 2020.
The ASFS Executive Committee is pleased to announce its 2021 initiatives.
Before getting to those, we’d like to thank everyone involved in our ASFS XXVIII conference and hope that attendees have fond memories of our virtual meeting. We were particularly pleased with the keynote roundtable, the lively discussion with Prof. Mame Fatou Niang and Prof. Lydie Moudileno, and our exceptionally well-attended postgraduate session. While we missed the interactions of our usual face-to-face conference, we were heartened by the commitment members showed to research across the many disciplines of French Studies. Members gave papers on literature, film, philosophy, applied linguistics, poetry, history, pedagogy and visual art – a fitting representation of the diverse scholarly interests ‘French Studies’ encompasses, and an important reminder of research carried out in these fields in Australia. Dr. Clara Sitbon and A/Prof. Ben McCann are currently editing a volume of the Australian Journal of French Studies based upon the conference, featuring a range of postgraduate and early career researchers.
Our plans for 2021 include:
1. Colin Nettelbeck prize
The ASFS will be inaugurating a prize in honour of Emeritus Prof. Colin Nettelbeck. Many members will know that Colin took a particular interest in mentoring postgraduate and early career researchers so our prize is aimed at these members. The Colin Nettelbeck Prize is designed to support research and travel costs for a French Studies-related project. A call for applications will be distributed shortly.
2. Mentoring program
We piloted our Mentoring program in 2020 and were delighted with its success. We matched up 21 mentors/mentees who worked together throughout the year and they gave very positive feedback to our survey of the program in November. We will shortly be sending a call for expressions of interest for 2021. (Mentors and mentees from 2020 are of course very welcome to continue working together.)
3. Postgraduate Essay prize
We will shortly be distributing a call for entries to the 2021 ASFS/AJFS Postgraduate Essay Prize. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Australian Journal of French Studies and Prof. Jarrod Hayes and Prof. Brian Nelson. We’re delighted that Dr. Yuri Cerqueira dos Anjos has agreed to chair of the Prize Committee this year. We are very grateful to A/Prof. Alistair Rolls for serving in this role in 2020. Alistair will remain on the committee this year.
4. ASFS Conference XXIX
Due to the ongoing pandemic restrictions, we have decided to postpone our conference in New Zealand to 2022 and are very grateful to the Organising Committee (A/Prof. Jean Anderson, Dr. Yuri Cerqueira dos Anjos, Dr. France Grenaudier-Klijn and Dr. Charles Rice-Davies) for their flexibility and their ongoing support of the Society. We are committed to holding our 29th conference in 2021 and plan to offer a ‘blended’ conference that members could attend either face-to-face or via zoom. We are currently planning where to host the conference and will be in touch with details as soon as we can.
5. Roundtable on ARC Funding at ASFS XXIX
We will be holding a session on ‘ARC Funding in French Studies’ in order to assist colleagues in preparing funding applications. We are gratified by the recent successes in French Studies (at DECRA, DP and Future Fellowship level) and are eager to capitalise upon these for the benefit of all members. We are grateful to Dr. Valentina Gosetti and Dr. Chris Hogarth for organising this session.
6. ‘Teaching-Research Nexus’ Panels at ASFS XXIX
Following a highly successful panel at the 2020 Conference in which members presented strategies for incorporating their research in their teaching, we will be organising a series of panels that showcase members’ pedagogical practice and scholarship of learning and teaching. We are very grateful to Dr. Carolyn Stott and Dr. Marie-Laure Vaille-Barcan for leading this initiative.
Finally, we offer our congratulations to Em. Prof. John West-Sooby, University of Adelaide, for winning FATFA’s ‘Professeur de l’année’ 2020. Congratulations also to Dr. Gemma King, ANU, for winning an Australian Award for University Teaching 2020. These are well deserved accolades that recognise our colleagues’ outstanding performance at a national level.
I am very grateful to the members who were elected/re-elected to the Executive Committee for 2021: A/Prof. Ben McCann (Vice-President), Dr. Leslie Barnes (Secretary), Dr. Chris Hogarth (Treasurer),Dr. Gemma King (Communications Officer), Dr. Clara Sitbon (Postgraduate Officer) and Ms. Lauren Twine (Membership Secretary, ad hoc member 2021).
We leave you with the good news that our Society has reached over 150 members, so is now at its largest in its history.
We look forward to representing you this year and encourage you to get in touch with us with any request, ideas or suggestions you may have.
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 email@example.com.
‘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.