Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/french/current/pg/conference/2013/
On Friday 22nd February the French Postgraduate Conference took place in the Wolfson Research Exchange. The broad theme was 'Place and Space', and each student presented a fascinating paper. It was an excellent opportunity to share our current research interests, and to set our thinking about these themes in the wider context of French studies.
Those presenting papers explored the themes of place and space in a variety of ways, and a number of interesting connections were made. I found it particularly interesting to hear about the place of politics in works of fiction, for example Jonathan Durham's paper questioning whether Le Mariage du Figaro constituted a balcony onto the French Revolution. It was good to be exposed to lesser known areas, such as the insect world of the 18th Century (Elisabeth Wallmann) and the London Drag scene (Kayte Stokoe), as well as revisiting themes more familiar to me, like the city as text (the theme of my MA dissertation), and the complexities of working with translation (Sarah Blaney).
David Lees shared some helpful pointers on teaching skills, and Dr. Emma Smith signalled the wide range of research development opportunities on offer at the University. Upcoming workshops can be found here.
We also heard from Dr. Liz Jones about the changing relations between geography and literature, as she emphasised the importance of mapping complex (multilingual, multidisciplinary), contemporary space in literature and other art forms. Her own research explores the relationships between space, place and life-writing.
What I found particularly helpful was that in presenting to a wider (:not exclusively postcolonial) audience, I was asked questions about things I hadn't previously considered in great detail. A number of very interesting issues were raised and as a result I will be looking further into, among other things: how far Monénembo's language choices reflect the violence of the texts' content; whether the representation of gender relations is wholly pessimistic; parallels to be found with French 20th Century novels especially as regards the insidious spreading of autocratic rule.
Abstracts of most of the papers can be found here and my own paper, entitled 'Contesting Space in Monénembo's Novels: the threat of dictatorship in Les Crapauds-Brousse' can be found here: contesting_space_in_monnembo.docx.
Many thanks to Merryn Everitt and Sarah Blaney for organising the day!