Images: Past and Present

This year’s edition of the joint event between the ASMCF and SSFH, held online on 23 April 2022 was a resounding success. The theme, ‘Images: Past and Present’, attracted a fantastic array of papers on images as fixed or moving visual representations, popular and mental conceptions, or in literature.

We were delighted to see our ambitious plans for this year’s event running smoothly and attracting interest from around 40 international participants, who joined in from places as varied as Canada, France, the Netherlands, the UK and the US. The day comprised an exciting array of sessions, including two excellent keynote addresses, 11 impressive postgraduate presentations, a great professional development panel, and a lively social event in the evening.

To mark the opening of the day, Dr Fiona Barclay (Stirling), the ASMCF Honorary Secretary, offered a warm and encouraging welcome to all delegates, underlining the importance of such events to strengthen the community of researchers in French and Francophone studies. She also presented the work and benefits of joining the ASMCF and the SSFH, which co-organised this Study Day.

Sophie Dubillot (ASMCF) then welcomed our first keynote speaker of the day, Professor Claire Gorrara (Cardiff). Claire delivered an enlightening and gripping exposé of her current research on the representations of the memory of the Holocaust in contemporary French bande dessinée aimed at younger readers.

Our first panel, chaired by Aoife Miralles (SSFH), included fascinating talks on ‘Drawings and Sketches’, from Michaela Kalcher’s findings on depictions of the French Revolution in contemporary diaries, to Agathe Dorra’s comparative analysis of children’s drawings in Terezín and Darfur, and finally Sophie Dubillot’s exploration of the functions of humorous drawings in early post-Liberation France.

In our second panel, chaired by Owen McCoughlan (SSFH), Leon Hughes invited participants to reflect on the serialised print images of Prudhomme’s Révolutions de Paris and their impact on revolutionaries. This was followed by Lili Toitot’s engaging talk on the different representations of L’Alsacienne since 1912.

After lunch, Pallavi Joshi (ASMCF) welcomed our second keynote speaker, Dr Dominique Carlini-Versini (Durham), who presented her fascinating research on skin and bodily representations in contemporary French women’s novels and films. Dominique’s exploration of literature and cinema naturally led to a panel on ‘Writing Images’, with Jelle van Bueren’s analysis of French public opinion of Germany during and after the Franco-Prussian War. Amira Sadoun then discussed the writing of a different version of history by French writers of North African descent. These two fascinating talks were followed by two equally engaging presentations: Neil Malloy’s on the presentation of the past in the contemporary novel and Tadas Bugnevicius’s on the genealogy of Modern French cinema.

Following these panels, we were grateful to get some inside editorial knowledge during two excellent professional development sessions: one by Professor Oliver Davis (Warwick) on publishing in journals, and the other by Dr Luc-André Brunet (Open University) on turning one’s PhD thesis into a monograph.

We finished the Study Day with two wonderful flash presentations. First, Rachel Green unveiled the meaning of the domestic door in narrative construction in 19th Century French Literature, then Anthony Chapman-Joy introduced his research on Women under siege in the caricatures of 1870/71.

After a deserved break, we hosted a well-attended, fun and relaxed social, or apéro. It was a great opportunity to make connections with other postgraduate students with common interests in French and Francophone Studies and to compare and contrast experiences across a variety of international doctoral training systems…over a glass of wine!

We would like to extend our thanks to all participants, especially to our keynote speakers and professional panel presenters, who generously gave their time and expertise to support the French and Francophone studies postgraduate community. We also are very grateful for the enthusiasm and dedication of the Postgraduate students whose great presentations and questions contributed to making the day such a success.

A très bientôt!

Sophie Dubillot and Pallavi Joshi, Postgraduate Representatives

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