“L.O.V.E, and Other Disaffections” – Conference Report

On the 4th November 2017, Benjamin Dalton and Dr Adina Stroia hosted the London French Postgraduate Conference “L.O.V.E, and Other Disaffections” at the Senate House Library, with help from the generous funding made available by the ASMFC. The aim of the conference was to bring together graduate students from a wide range of international institutions to discuss ideas surrounding the field of “love studies” which is gathering importance in the French studies context. We invited papers centred upon the themes of love, affect, ethics, community, the erotic, the sexual, the queer, etc.

The conference attracted a large number of abstracts from a diverse range of postgraduate scholars, and we organised an ambitious schedule of 12 papers (organised into four pannels of three papers each) and an hour long keynote talk by Dr Amaleena Damlé of the University of Cambridge. Speakers came from all over the word, with papers given by graduate students from France, US, Canada, Germany, and the UK. The panels were organised into the themes “The Philosophy of Love”, “Bodily (Dis)Affections”, “Love and Tragedy”, and “Loving Feminisms.” These panels allowed for discussion of the field of love studies from a theoretical perspective, then one focusing on affect and the material body, then the discussion of the loss of love or tragic love in literary texts, and then how the concept of love is engaged with by contemporary feminism.

Papers were diverse and rich, and each panel generated much discussion at the end. The “Loving Feminisms” panel at the end of the day created a particularly rich discussion, and showed how the energy of the conference had remained energetic and challenging throughout the day. Dr Amaleena Damlé’s talk “Love’s Wonder: On Intimacy, Knowledge and Politics in Contemporary French Culture” was fantastically rich, and covered many contemporary feminist theoretical texts on the subject of love before applying these theoretical insights to contemporary French women’s writing. The talk comes out of current research Dr Damlé is preparing for her new book on love and affect, and she spoke about how helpful the conference had been in offering her feedback in the early stages of her project.

All in all, a fantastic day which fostered rich and challenging discussion, whilst bringing together graduate students in French studies from a wide variety of international universities and research areas, from contemporary theory to medieval French romance. We are certain these connections will serve to continue these debates further into the future.

Benjamin Dalton (KCL) and Dr Adina Stroia (KCL)

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