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Centre for Modern European Literature and Culture

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Lectures and seminars 2017-18

Below is a list of events for the 2017-18 academic year.
19 October 2017: Dr Will Norman (School of English), ‘Beauvoir in America: Tourism, Freedom, Entanglement’.

Dr. Will Norman offers a reading of Simone de Beauvoir’s neglected 1948 travelogue, L’Amérique au jour le jour, in which she offers a phenomenology of the American road trip. By turns deeply critical of the United States and utterly enchanted by it, he take Beauvoir’s contradictoriness in the book is a starting point for thinking through how she navigates her way, both literally and philosophically, through the landscape of postwar America.

16 November 2017: Professor Osman Durrani, ‘What the Poet saw: Goethe’s Travels in Italy, 1786-1788’

At the age of thirty-seven, Goethe abandons his position as Poet in Residence and Privy Counsellor at the Court of Weimar. Under cover of darkness he sets off for an unknown destination. Adopting a series of false identities, he spends two years travelling through Italy as far as Sicily, via Rome and Naples. This talk will examine his motivation, discuss some of the high and low points of the journey, and assess its effects on his career and his re-integration into the society to which he was eventually obliged to return.
17 November 2017: Centre for Modern European Literature Workshop – The West Eastern Lyric Modernist Poetry Between Asia and Europe

In Enlightenment Orientalism (2012), the late S. Aravamudan argued that the popularity in 18th-century Europe of the “Oriental tale”, a genre practiced by several celebrated early English and French novelists, calls for a revision of the standard view of the novel as an originally European product that was then disseminated throughout the world. In another essay (2014), Aravamudan noted that ‘narratives of influence from “East” to “West” are often subject to special pleading, contingency, and “accidental sagacity,” whereas influences from the “West” to the “East” involve formulations deriving from scientific necessity, historical causality, and colonial power’. Categories of genre, in other words, seem to have been conflated with categories of power.

This workshop will consider the implications of this insight for lyric poetry. Exploring the many lives of “Eastern Poetry” and the ways in which its circulation across several languages challenges any understanding of modernism along a “single Greenwich meridian of world literature” (Casanova), it will examine the way that poetic styles, themes, and strategies developed in a multi-way process of cultural transfer between Asia and Europe, across Europe and across Asia. Translations, pseudo-translations, re-translations and free versions of “Oriental” poems, often under the umbrella term of “Eastern poetry”, proved enduringly popular among a whole range of European readers and poets from the late-19th century to the early 20th century, from Pound to Rilke to Michaux. Translations by the likes of Edward Fitzgerald, Edwin Arnold, and E. Powys Mathers circulated and were re-translated by “Eastern” poets, who in turn gave these poems new lives. Lyric poetry, in short, became an intercontinental genre.

Papers will explore the following themes:

  • The conceptualisations and uses of “Oriental” or “Eastern” poetry
  • “Eastern/Oriental” poetry and European modernism
  • The book history of famous and lesser known translations
  • Circulation and re-translation across European languages
  • Scholarly vs popular translations
  • Pseudo-translations
  • The circulation and re-translation of “Eastern poetry” beyond Europe, particularly in Asia and the Middle East
  • Studies of reading and response
  • Formal, stylistic, and generic exchange (e.g. sonnets, ghazals, pastoral etc.)


Alexander Bubb (Dublin), Fatima Burney (MULOSIGE, SOAS), John Gilmore (Warwick), Rebecca Gould (Birmingham), Ben Hutchinson (Kent), Maddalena Italia (SOAS), Sara Landa (Kent), Xiaofan Amy Li (Kent), Francesca Orsini (SOAS), Iman Shahee (Leverhulme, Warwick).

30 November 2017: Dr Siobhán Shilton (University of Bristol), ‘Art, Resistance and the Tunisian Revolution: Aesthetics of Contingency’

A striking range of artwork has emerged in response to the Tunisian Revolution of 2011. This artwork crosses diverse media from sculpture, installation, performance and graffiti to drawing, painting, photography and video. Certain artwork or visual culture re-appropriates icons of revolution, such as portraits of Che Guevara or Delacroix’s painting, Liberty Leading the People (1830). Crucially, though, many seek to avoid such iconic language. Employing the iconic language that is associated with the French Revolution could provide support for neo-colonial identifications of Tunisia in 2011 with France in 1789. An iconic language of this type was also used to encapsulate the national myths of ‘revolution’ perpetuated by the government of Ben Ali. This paper asks how art exceeds what photographer Jellel Gasteli has called ‘[des] icônes de l’exotisme révolutionnaire’. It focuses on work that produces ‘contingent encounters’ – between stable and unstable forms, parameters and processes, or artists and participants – as a means of avoiding simplistic narratives of revolution and posing questions as to the future of Tunisia.

8-9 December 2017: ‘Play, Recreation and Experimentation’, Centre for Modern European Literature Conference

This interdisciplinary conference aimed to explore relations between play, recreation, and experimentation by examining their articulations in literature and the arts (broadly understood as the visual arts, architecture, music/sound art, film) from the early modern period to the present day.

8 Dec 2017

Keynote 1: Peter Dayan (Edinburgh): ‘What were they playing at?’ Chance in art, and how Dada put it in its placeChair: Xiaofan Amy Li (Kent)

Panel 1: PoetryChair: Xiaofan Amy Li (Kent)

  • Richard David Williams (SOAS): Rajput Play: practicing aesthetics in courtly culture
  • Kate Costello (Oxford): Machine Translation, Cyberbabble, That Ringing in My Ears: On Multimedia Practices in Hsia Yu’s Experimental Poetry
  • Alexander Alonso (York): Playing the Fool: Paul Muldoon’s Nonsense

Panel 2: Space and AestheticsChair: Samuel McAuliffe (Goldsmiths)

  • Lucie Glasheen (Queen Mary): Play, transformation and the re-newing of urban space in the children’s cartoon ‘Casey Court’
  • Jennifer Gustar (University of British Colombia): Ludic Feminism and Literary Liminality
  • Yaniv Hagbi (Amsterdam): The Horror of the Errorless Play: Georges Perec, Dennis Potter, and William Golding

9 Dec 2017

Keynote 2: Ulrike Zitzlsperger (Exeter): Capital Games: The Politics and Culture of Recreation in Interwar BerlinChair: Reinhard M. Moeller (Goethe University, Frankfurt)

Panel :3 Playful QualitiesChair: Barbara Bollig (University of Hagen)

  • Reinhard M. Moeller (Goethe University, Frankfurt): Playing, Experimenting and Coping with Chance: Serendipity as a Creative Paradigm in Literature and Theory
  • Samuel McAuliffe (Goldsmiths): Decorum and Insolence in Robert Walser’s Dialectic of Manners
  • Cornelia Rémi (LMU Munich and University of Tübingen): Radical Playfulness: World Hacks and Survival in Contemporary German Writing

Keynote 3: Thomas Karshan (UEA): Nabokov Playing on the Flowered Brink of Parody: Teaching through PlayChair: Alexander Alonso (York)

Panel 4. Philosophy and literature in playChair: Helena Taylor (Exeter)

  • Jordi Larios (St Andrews): Benjamín Jarnés’s playful fictionalization of Ortega’s ‘raciovitalismo’: Viviana y Merlín (1929)
  • Elodie Laugt (St Andrews): Senses of ‘play’ at work in Jacques Rancière’s reading of Mallarmé
  • Barbara Bollig (University of Hagen): Toying with Text(ure)s: Un-Mythicising Margwelaschwili’s “Medea” and the Ontotext

Panel 5: Ludic Strategies Chair: Lucie Glasheen (Queen Mary)

  • Hugh Haughton (York): ‘A queer-looking party’: The Games of Nonsense
  • Tiago Hirth (University of Lisbon): Luca Pacioli’s Jokes
  • Anna Reynolds (York): ‘To Play with False Dice in a Corner o[f] the Cover’: Wastepaper Play in the Works of Thomas Nashe

14 Dec 2017: Dr Sara-Louise Cooper, ‘Reading the World: Maryse Condé’s Desirada and Patrick Chamoiseau’s Frères Migrants

This paper proposes a view of Caribbean literature as ‘world literature’ in the sense that it registers and interrogates the material conditions of the emergence of a global world. Globalization began in the Caribbean with the production of the first global commodities, a commercial revolution that changed relationships to the natural world and brought people from three continents into sustained contact for the first time through the foundational crime of plantation slavery. Contemporary Caribbean societies have their origin in this nexus of violent historical, ecological and cultural shifts, and Caribbean writing wrestles with their ongoing legacies. As such, it offers a rich body of thought on what it means to read and write in a globalizing world, and has the potential to contribute to contemporary theoretical debates on the reading and writing of ‘world literature’. To illustrate this argument, this paper offers readings of two texts, Maryse Condé’s 1997 Desirada and Patrick Chamoiseau’s 2017 Frères migrants. Desirada draws into dialogue the early modern colonial desire for virgin soil and contemporary Caribbean women’s experiences of fertility and child-bearing. Frères migants establishes a parallel between the deaths at sea of enslaved Africans and present-day drownings of refugees in the Mediterranean. Both draw on the literary to bring the historical, the ecological and the cultural into relationship, and in this way, both offer an implicit argument for the literary as a mode adequate to the challenge of reading the complex entanglements of a global world.
8 February 2018: Dr Patricia Novillo-Corvalán, ‘Indo-Argentine Modernist Networks: Tagore, Victoria Ocampo, and South-South Solidarity’

Abstract: This paper explores the cross-cultural relations between countries located in the (so-called) global south, focussing on India and Argentina through the nexus between the Bengali author, artist, and educationalist Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) and the Argentine writer, publisher, and feminist Victoria Ocampo (1890-1979). Originally coined in what has been recognised as the first Asian-African conference held in Bandung (Indonesia) in 1955, the geopolitical phrase global south, I suggest, is of extreme relevance to the recent transnational ‘turn’ in literary studies that has problematised Western-centric paradigms by foregrounding less-studied geographical areas across the globe. Although the Tagore-Ocampo meeting predates the Bandung conference, I argue that the fruitful cultural relations that ensued from their encounter in Buenos Aires in November 1924, offer a pertinent example of south-south solidarity that proposes a decentred spatial paradigm for global interconnectedness formulated from late-colonial and neo-colonial locations formerly excluded from canonical narratives of modernism. I suggest that the ‘contact zones’ they generated – in a broader use of Pratt’s phrase – offer a transnational framework that arises from, and focusses on, the so-called ‘peripheries’: India and Argentina. By reading Tagore and Ocampo as part of a comparative horizon that is attendant to the aesthetic possibilities their encounter yields, as well as by positioning it in relation to the outward-looking, multidirectional cultural models of literature they proposed: vishva-sahitya (Tagore) and Sur (Ocampo) – while remaining aware of the fraught, complex relationship their countries sustained with imperial Britain – I seek to situate them as decisive figures that can significantly enrich and enlarge our understanding of modernist practices in the global south.

Dr Patricia Novillo-Corvalán is a Senior Lecturer in Comparative Literature at the University of Kent. Her research interests focus on the relationship between Latin America and European modernisms, the global South, translation broadly understood as a transfer of knowledge and migration of ideas, people, and cultural artefacts, and she has written extensively on cross-cultural encounters between writers worldwide. She is the author of Borges and Joyce: An Infinite Conversation (Legenda. 2011) and Transnational Networks of Literary Exchange (Routledge, 2017).

22 March 2018: Professor Rebecca Gould (University of Birmingham), ‘What was Literary Theory in the Medieval Islamic World?’
Within contemporary literary studies, literary theory is often closely associated with modernism’s interest in the autonomy of literary artefact. Yet the interest in the literary artefact as an object of inquiry, and of literariness as a discursive mode that uses language in distinct ways, is by no means limited to modern European literature. Drawing on a long history of Persian and Arabic poetics, and specifically the rhetorical tradition (‘ilm al-balagha), this talk examines premodern concepts of figural representation, including metaphor, simile, and metonymy, that were instrumental in shaping the literary theory of premodern Persian and Arabic literature. I consider how the alternative understandings that this tradition fostered of figuration, genre, authorship, and the creative process itself could enrich and potentially revise European-derived understandings of literary form.
10 May 2018: Professor Anne Fuchs (University College Dublin), ‘Speed Politics: The Motif of Walking in Modernist Texts by Franz Kafka, Irmgard Keun and Robert Walser’

Abstract: Modern speed politics associated speed and accelerating movement with energy, dynamism, vitality, creativity and technology. While the scientific terms speed and acceleration are by no means identical, this modern discourse interwove them in a narrative that championed scientific, technological and social progress. Both speed and acceleration were seen as the drivers of a programme of modernization that aimed to close the gap between a present that was rich in creative potential and an even brighter future as the horizon of mankind’s self-realization. Enda Duffy rightly observes that modernity turned movement and speed into “qualities of capitalism” as well as a genuinely modern desire. “Speed,” comments Duffy, “intimately woven into a new paradigm of the modern subject’s nexus of desires, becomes the new opiate and the new (after)taste of movement as power.”

Engaging with the modern discourse on speed, may paper analyzes the motif of walking in texts by Franz Kafka, Irmgard Keun, and Robert Walser. Focusing on varied tempos, styles, and motivations, I discuss walking as a symbolic practice that simultaneously feeds on and disrupts the modern speed politics. Moving away from the discussion of the flâneur, I will show that literary modernism transformed walking from an Enlightenment trope signifying progress into the embodiment of moral and epistemological ambivalence. In this process, walking becomes an expression of the disconcerting and yet titillating experience of speed politics.

Postgraduate research seminar series

27 November 2017: Marine Authier (PhD student in French), ‘Albertine and the Infinite Proliferation of Fragments in À la recherche du temps perdu’
In Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu (1913-1927), Albertine is described as a fragmented character. Her extreme complexity does not allow the Narrator to define her as a whole. Throughout the novel, she remains ‘un être de fuite’ (creature of flight). For Nicola Luckhurst, Albertine is ‘a knot’ (2000: 102), while she seems more like ‘a nebula’ (1998: 2) according to Malcolm Bowie. Finally, Gilles Deleuze states that ‘there are so many Albertines that we should give a distinct name to each’ (2000: 68).

In this paper, I will argue that, in the Recherche, the fragmentation of Albertine is supported by previous mechanisms (enlargement, extraction, decomposition). The more the Narrator comes closer to Albertine, the more he notices the proliferation of fragments: her physical appearance is constantly shifting, her speech is full of intentional holes, and her sexual inclination is left uncertain.

I aim to demonstrate the two contradictory approaches regarding Albertine’s fragments. On the one hand, the Narrator, as a jealous lover, gets himself tangled up in the obsession of deciphering. He desperately collects fragments but realises they do not fit together. Therefore, he never gets to know the truth about the young woman. On the other hand, Proust deliberately maintains Albertine in the mysterious realm of inexplicable multiplicity and takes the time to describe his Narrator’s turmoil. This will allow me to insist on the shift that occurs with the Recherche: the negative proliferation of incoherent fragments becomes the essential subject of the Proustian creation.

11 December 2017: Stephanie Obermeier (PhD Student In Comparative Literature), ”Wo steckt Felicitas?’ Felicitas Hoppe’s Hoppe (2012) as a Critique of the Contemporary Autofictional Novel’

In Felicitas Hoppe’s novel Hoppe, the fictional biographer ‘fh’, combines biographical research with literary criticism in an account of the fictional Felicitas Hoppe’s life and literary works. The text makes reference to both clearly fictional and clearly non-fictional, or factual elements, and has therefore been critically received as ‘autofiction’. At first glance, the text does appear to correspond to the characteristics of autofiction as outlined by Jacques Lecarme, these being, firstly, the nominal identity of author, narrator, and protagonist, and secondly, the text’s self-identification as a novel, or a work of fiction. However, there is a third criterion of the autofiction genre that is specified by Serge Doubrovsky which Hoppe does not meet: namely, that an autofictional text should demonstrate the ‘impulse to reveal oneself in one’s truth’. I argue that the focus in Hoppe is less on self-discovery or even self-invention than it is on the text’s construction and its constant deferral of the moment of self-reflexion and self-constitution. Moreover, the text stages an opposition between the kind of novel the character Felicitas would most like to write, and the text which ‘fh’ (or, by extension, Hoppe herself) constructs. Rather than being a prime example of the contemporary autofictional novel, then, I argue that Hoppe can, in fact, be read as a novel that wants to champion the autofiction genre, but shies away from actually committing to autofiction’s generic conventions.

12 February 2018: Professor Peter Consenstein (City University of New York), ‘Literary Constraints and Their Results’

Literary constraints are the object of my research, which focuses, for the most part, on the literary output of the group Oulipo. My various published articles, as well as my manuscript, consider the results from the application of both traditional literary constraints, such as anagrams, as well as more experimental and innovative constraints, represented in the works of Georges Perec, Jacques Roubaud, and Michelle Grangaud.

Literary constraints are both visible and invisible. In other words, readers are either aware or not of the constraint while reading. Awareness of constraints depends on the will, or lack thereof, of both the author and the reader. Some authors like to share their constraints, others do not, some readers enjoy the knowledge of constraints, others do not, and finally there are both authors and readers fully unaware of constraints although their expectations in writing and reading practices are driven by them. Literary constraints add mysteriousness to the pleasures of literature. Consciousness of constraints enriches and adds further levels of meaning to a literary text; no mean feat.

The “results” I would like to discuss are varied, which is why the application of literary constraints receives such wide interest today. The constraints Georges Perec practiced and invented reflect an intense need to, and means for, recalling the past as well as a unique reconstruction of his Jewish identity. Jacques Roubaud also uses constraints as mnemotechniques; what is especially innovative about Roubaud’s work is the influence of Japanese poetics in his practice of poetry. Further, Roubaud’s translation of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark pertains to a particular approach to the translation of constraints. Michelle Grangaud is a highly skilled and well recognized writer of anagrams. I propose that her practice of writing anagrams results in a worthwhile questioning of intentionality. In one of my latest chapters on the group Oulipo, I discuss the wide breadth of the group’s popularity as well as the international criticism it has received for being too bourgeois as well as unwelcoming to feminist thought. All of the outcomes discussed in this paragraph have been well documented in published articles or book chapters.

To conclude, the application of literary constraints by the group Oulipo is a means of addressing and analyzing salient issues in contemporary literary studies, such as cultural and cross-cultural studies, philosophy (intentionality), religious identity, reception theory, feminism, experimentalism in general and translation theory. As such, the seminar I am proposing would present graduate students with a wide variety of possible avenues of research through the analysis of literary constraints.

1 March 2018: Clemence Ardin and Axel Batt

Clémence Ardin (University of Kent), ‘ “[…] the sons of God saw the daughters of men were beautiful”: Fallen Angels and Women in William Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Enoch and Alfred de Vigny’s Eloa ou la soeur des anges’

Abstract: In biblical myths, women are often associated with seduction, and therefore, evil. They can be seductresses or seducted, and, at first glance, always have a lesser part compared to men. However, when one observes thoroughly the myths in which they are involved, it appears that they actually are central figures, although often negative ones. The myth of the fallen angel, retelling the origin of evil through figures such as Satan or the Watchers, is not always involving clearly women. However, Romantic authors such as William Blake in his illustrations of the Book of Enoch (c.1824), and Alfred de Vigny in “Eloa ou la soeur des anges” (1824), have decided to include women in their visions of the myth. Indeed, Blake places women at the centre of the Watchers’ narrative and Vigny introduces, in his poem, the first female angel of literature. This paper aims to demonstrate that through their representations of women, Blake and Vigny try to convey their considerations on God. According to the two poets, God is not a benevolent and merciful father figure, but rather an indifferent tyrant.

Axel Batt (Lille 3/University of Kent), ‘Redefining the Genre of the Novel in Early Twentieth-Century French Literature: Alain Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes’Abstract: When Alain-Fournier publishes his only book in 1913, the novel faces a generic crisis that scholar Michel Raimond describes as “un affaissement de la capacité d’invention” (a decrease of the capacity to invent). Naturalism, which had been given prominence during the 19th century, comes to a dead end as naturalists themselves denounce the excess of the movement and its tendency to be too scientific. In response to that crisis, French men of letters decide to found La Nouvelle Revue Française, a literary magazine which aims at redefining the genre of the novel. It is in this review that the first chapter of Le Grand Meaulnes is published, and as such illustrates the new, and sometimes contradictory, définitions of the “Romanesque” proposed by the NRF. My contention is that, in the midst of the literary crisis, this novel serves as a fictional space where the writer finally manages to rethink the genre by conflating opposite forces: the legacy of Zola’s realism and naturalism with a renewed interest for the fictional and unlikely qualities of events; and Thibaudet’s definition of the novel made of love stories with Jacques Rivière’s definition of the novel made of adventures.

12 March 2018: James Hoctor and Helder Mendes Baiao

James Hoctor (University of Kent), ‘The Prejudices of the Phenomenology of Doubles’

Helder Mendes Baiao (University of Porto), ‘How the French Travelers Discovered the Portuguese Inquisition at the End of the Seventeenth Century’

26 March 2018: Beatrice Fagan and Katharina Kalinowski

Beatrice Fagan (University of Kent), ‘Medical and Literary Perspectives on the Changing Discourses of Maternity in Late Nineteenth-Century France’

The depopulation crisis in late-nineteenth century France prompted politicians, moralists and medical professionals to attempt to influence practices and discourses concerning maternity with a view to increasing the birth rate and reducing the exceptionally-high infant mortality rate. Increased emphasis on the role of the mother and a re-assessment of maternal care are reflected in the proliferation of medical documents on that topic released in the late nineteenth century, particularly those aimed directly at mothers.

This paper will examine two particular aspects of maternity that were targeted: the practice of breast-feeding and the use of wet-nurses. The use of a wet-nurse often required the travel or displacement of an individual. The wealthier classes would pay for a nurse ‘sur lieu’, requiring the nurse to leave her own baby behind. Conversely, the poorer classes would send their child to a wet-nurse in the countryside, where it would often be breast-fed alongside its ‘frère du lait’. A large quantity of previously unexplored medical texts engage with these practices and highlight the dangers and health risks involved for the mother, her baby and the wet-nurse, whilst encouraging mothers to breast-feed their own offspring instead.

In particular, this paper will discuss the displacement of babies and women involved in the wet-nursing industry, the reciprocal movement between countryside and city that entailed and the social implications of providing a substitute mother. This theme will be explored through literary representations of the wet-nursing industry, in particular Émile Zola’s Fécondité (1899), alongside contemporary medical documents. The paper will also question whether there is a discursive displacement taking place in Zola’s novel and literary texts, whereby traditional maternal discourses are replaced by a new discourse on motherhood, advocated by populationists.

Katharina Kalinowski (University of Kent), ‘Trans-lating Nature: The Art of Ecopoetry’.

Against the backdrop of a global ecological crisis, the attempt to poetically immerse in the beauty of nature must be decelerated by the plastic carpet covering it: pure nature, in its Romantic idea, does no longer exist. The contemporary literary movement dubbed ecopoetry is therefore opening up critical conversations with a sphere that has been irrevocably transformed by humans. At the edge of mankind and nonhuman nature, ecopoetry seeks to weave tensions between anthropocentrism/biocentrism, nature/culture, or self/other into its textures. By doing so, it clashes not only against borders of the human language, but also against borders of the human skin: We don’t speak tree, shell, or whale, and whilst trying to give a voice to the unknown, the ecopoetic act is shaped by multiple power dynamics. In order to gain deeper insights into the underlying intra- and extratextual conflicts, I propose to frame ecopoetry as a form of translation. Equally rooted in the desire to “carry over” and accommodate the foreign, translation inherently implies a violating, yet simultaneously invaluable communicative capacity. The concept of an “ecotranslation” will thus help to underpin ecopoetry as a transformative instrument with the potential to reimagine the exploitative relationship between human and nature, eventually contributing to a heightened environmental awareness.

3 April 2018: Dominique Carlini Versini and Mykyta Steshenko

Dominique Carlini Versini (University of Kent) will give a paper entitled ‘The Gendered Body Out-of-Bound in Virginie Despentes’s Les jolies choses(1998).’

Les jolies choses, Virginie Despentes’s third novel, is the story of twin sisters, Pauline and Claudine, involved in an identity swap. Claudine, an incarnation of hyper-femininity, asks her sister to pretend to be her and to sing at a concert where she is supposed to perform. After Claudine commits suicide, Pauline decides to adopt her sister’s identity in order to sign a deal with her music production company and pocket the contract advances. I argue that this bizarre plot allows an interrogation of the performance of gender and its inscription on the female body in the narrative.

Indeed, to become Claudine, Pauline must learn to perform her gender according to the codes of hyper-femininity. In this paper, I will demonstrate that this performance is defined by excess throughout its parodic and metamorphic dimensions. It involves transforming the female body to correspond to unreachable norms and expectations. It also means symbolically crossing the subject’s boundaries to reduce the body to an object of gaze, touch, and ultimately consumption. In that perspective, this paper will particularly look at the representation of street harassment and the mechanisms of objectification and dehumanisation it implies. At the same time, the excess displayed by the text allows to deconstruct gender politics and questions “the politically empowering potential of performance and spectacle” (Damlé 2013: 23). Ultimately, this paper will argue that the text offers a reflexion on gender performance and the gendered body as a produced and unstable process (Butler 1990, 2004, 2015), and a masquerade (Despentes 2006). It also resonates with current debates around the female body in the public space, sparked by the #MeToo or Time’s Up movements, constituting this way an important – albeit ambiguous – piece in recent French feminist writing.

Mykyta Steshenko (Paris IV Sorbonne) will give a paper entitled ‘Aesthetic Values of the Epistolary Correspondence in the Twentieth Century: On the Example of François Mauriac’s Epistolary Heritage.’

Often considered to be a “writer of the Catholic Church” or a “bourgeois writer”, François Mauriac’s personality is more complex and requires a more profound analysis due to his various engagements during the First World War, the Second World War as well as during various events in French and world history. Not only did his long literary career allow him to express his opinion in a sharp, rather conservative way, but he also drew his readers’ attention to some important aspects of human life, including the sense of brotherhood, camaraderie, unity, and respect. Mauriac believed that by fostering these positive values, humanity could rid itself of its destructive defects. My research attempts to draw a more realistic portrait of this important member of the French Academy, while countering inaccurate and superficial stereotypes which often harm literary research.

Correspondence is often neglected by some critics who believe it has less literary value than poetry or the novel. Nevertheless, this literary genre is a direct heir to the ancient rhetoric tradition which seems to be absent in modern literary discourse. The epistolary relationship contains an important treasure of eloquent expressions which are part and parcel of any writer’s style. Studying Mauriac’s letters will enable a more accurate definition of the writer’s aesthetics and his contribution to Modern Literature.