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The inscriptions of the Self in the French and Francophone World FFRI Guest speakers Series, Fall 2019

Dr. Charlotte Trinquet du Lys,University of Central Florida, and Dr. Rori Bloom, University of Florida, November 3, 2019 at 3pm,  Scott Nygren Scholars Studio (Library West)

Les Belles au bois dormant

Taking inspiration from Charles Perrault’s late seventeenth-century fairy tale, “La Belle au Bois dormant,” Drs. Trinquet and Bloom will explore several versions of the “Sleeping Beauty” story, including Italian sources and French variations on the theme.  Our aim is to treat a familiar, classic text in order to explore its literary and cultural complexity

This event is open to all but especially undergraduate students in French and Francophone Studies who would like to participate in a moderated discussion of French literature.  If interested, consider reading Perrault’s “La Belle au bois dormant” here.  You might be surprised by this version’s unfamiliar ending!

Dr. Kevin Meehan,University of Central Florida, November 18th, 2019 at 3pm,  Scott Nygren Scholars Studio (Library West)

Vodou Inscriptions of the Self in Zora Neale Hurston’s Haitian Ethnography

Zora Neale Hurston’s 1938 book, Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica, recounts her two years of fieldwork research on African-derived religions and other cultural practices in the Caribbean.  Though it has received plenty of attention since being republished in 1990, Tell My Horse is still Hurston’s most complicated, least understood book. Her inscriptions of self are frequently debated in conflicting scholarly assessments and in this talk, Dr. Meehan tries to make sense of Tell My Horse by placing it in the context of five centuries of travelogue writing about Haiti from French as well as Spanish, British, white American and African American authors.  Haitian vodou is also important with its wide-ranging cultural, political, and historical contexts, especially when unpacking the book’s title.  “Tell my horse” is actually an English rendering of the phrase “Parley cheval ou” that is uttered by vodou practitioners to announce the onset of possession by the spirit of Papa Gede during a vodou ceremony. This reference to the vodou lwa of social protest is pivotal for sorting out Hurston’s own narrative politics and seeing how she uses the cultural logic of spirit possession to affiliate with vodou, push back against the cultural logic of imperialist travelogue from Columbus down to Herskovits, and, in the process, decolonize ethnography at a transitional moment in the history of anthropology as a discipline.

Dr. Kevin Meehan is professor of English at the University of Central Florida.  He is the author of People Get Ready: African American and Caribbean Cultural Exchange (University Press of Mississippi, 2009), and numerous articles on literature and decolonization in the Americas.  His recent scholarship includes articles on small farming as climate change adaptation in the Caribbean, and he is developing a book-length project analyzing climate change adaption through the framework of environmental humanities.  He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the Organization of American States, and in 2017-18 he was a Fulbright Scholar in Residence at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College in St. Kitts, in the Leeward Islands.


Past Events

Dr. Anne Brancky, Vassar College, October 21, 2019 at 4pm,  (George E. Smathers Libraries (Library East), Room 100

Inscribing the Self on the Small Screen: How Marguerite Duras Put Literature on TV

Some of the most well-known intellectuals of 20th-century France have warned of the dangers of television to thought, to society and to the book. However, Marguerite Duras, a prominent writer and public intellectual, made use of the television as an extension of her literary project. As both an interviewer on state-funded television shows during the postwar period, and later as a major cultural celebrity being interviewed herself, Duras foregrounds both her writerly persona and her public image in order to film what amount to literary productions in themselves that would fascinate viewers while simultaneously educating them about social issues.

Dr. Mame-Fatou Niang, Carnegie Mellon University, October 28, 2019 at 4pm,  Scott Nygren Scholars Studio (Library West)

Blackness in French

Mame Fatou Niang is Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research focuses on contemporary France, Sub-Saharan Africa, Postcolonial and Transnational Studies, Media, and Urban Planning. She is the author of Identités Françaises (Brill 2019) which examines the development of Afro-French identities and the works of second- and third-generation female immigrant writers of the banlieue. In 2015 she has co-directed Mariannes NoiresMosaïques Afropéennes in which seven Afro-French women reflects on what it means to be Black and French, Black in France. She has also co-authored a photo series on Black French Islam.