Current Issue Abstracts
Vol. 45.2 Summer 2020
Dans L'Homme qui rit, de Victor Hugo, Gwynplaine suscite l'hilarité des foules, qui payent pour voir son visage grotesquement déformé. Personnage « dénué d'humour » selon Joe Friedmann, il ne rit jamais.
Gwynplaine apparaît alors comme le porteur contagieux mais sain d'un virus auquel il est lui-même immunisé. Les modalités de cette contagion sont un foyer d'infection unique, lui-même et un contact direct. Il est un phénomène dont il faut faire l'expérience à la source. Ce rire est contagieux, mais pas épidémique, il ne se communique pas d'homme à homme en son absence.
Le rire de Gwynplaine pervertit ainsi son message personnel, un message révolutionnaire d'égalité, qu'il délivre dans un discours vite noyé sous les rires provoqués par son apparence physique. En effet, pour Marie-Hélène Huet, si l'épidémie est propice aux idées révolutionnaires, portées par l'air du temps, la contagion, elle, correspond à un mode de pensée conservateur : on peut la contenir, et confiner les cas dangereux afin d'étouffer l'infection. Et c'est bien un effet antirévolutionnaire qu'a ce rire sur le peuple : leur permettant d'oublier leur misère le temps d'un spectacle, il retarde d'autant un vrai soulèvement populaire. C'est ainsi que le rire de Gwynplaine, ce rire tyrannique et contagieux, trahit son message et entérine malgré lui le status quo.
Reading André Gide's novel Les Faux-monnayeurs (1924) through the lens of Kadji Amin's recent reflections on the historiographically unsteady category of modern pederasty, this article aspires to an understanding of queer as a distinctly narrative model of playfully contrived identity formation. Attention to how queer identities are forged in Gide, and historically in his wake, I argue, will allow new insights into queer theory's perpetual efforts at self-(re)invention.
Cet article revient sur quelques textes récents de Leslie Kaplan – et tout particulièrement Mathias et la Révolution (2016) – pour s'interroger sur ce qui reste de la puissance émancipatrice de la littérature à notre époque. Au-delà de l'enjeu mémoriel que représente Mai 68 et, plus largement, la reprise du grand récit révolutionnaire, il s'agit ici de montrer que la question de que ce peut encore l'écriture repose chez Kaplan sur une pratique à première vue paradoxale du lieu commun.
Current approaches within the humanities wish to represent nature beyond anthropocentric limits. In this article, I examine this approach through the trope of the water and the oceanic in Amélie Nothomb's novel Métaphysique des tubes and Marie Darrieussecq's Le mal de mer. Against the Freudian notion of the "Oceanic Feeling," in which the ocean is reduced to a mere metaphor of a firm dissolution of the ego, the literary articulation of oceanic space in these works render it a productive force, unremittingly changing, and differentiating from itself. In essence, the works show that water is not necessarily inert, stable, and calm: water can definitely be inert, but also tremulous, productive, and creative. For that, the oceanic has to be perceived as a movement between finitude and infinitude, not as a limit defined "outside" of life correspondingly to Freud, but as a limit within life, or perhaps, a limit that the motion towards it is life itself. Thus, they invite us to conceive the ocean in a posthuman fashion: not as a clichéd literary metaphor of the exotic force of nature, but as a true manifestation of constant differing and becoming—utterly the process which composes both literature and life.
Entre signal reçu et crypté: Pierre Alferi's Poetics of Remediation
The contemporary poet Pierre Alferi made a brief but notable foray into experimental filmmaking in the early 2000s. Taking seriously his assertion that when he extends his poetic work into audiovisual formats it is in order to "essayer la même chose avec d'autres moyens" (inTIME 17), this article investigates what Alferi's experimentation across media might clarify about his approach to poetry as, above all, a collection of "moyens." The regular cross-contamination between audiovisual media and literature in Alferi's work has generally been accounted for in light of this poet's unveiled obsession with the celluloid cinematic image: lines of poetry are broken in pursuit of montage effects, the vertical seriality of the poem interpellates that of the film strip, etc. The central objective of this article is to set aside the assumed primacy of film in Alferi's creative imaginary and re-center the discussion of the relationship between poetry and audiovisual media on the more varied media ecology within which his intermedial experiments actually takes place. Through readings of a sequence from the film Intime and of the 1994 poetry collection Kub or, both of which foreground the mediation and re-mediation of images via analog television transmission, I argue that models of remediation that shift images away from the concrete existence of celluloid in fact offer more complex and supple ways of thinking about the influence of image technologies on Alferi's poetics.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, we often couch our present catastrophe of climate change in eschatological terms. In Greek, "apocalypse" signifies to "uncover, disclose"—the savior figure thus serves to enlighten us (OED). This trope of an enlightened messiah finds expression in two environmentally focused Caribbean novels: Jacques Roumain's Gouverneurs de la rosée and Patrick Chamoiseau's Les neuf consciences du Malfini. Although largely different, these novels both imply that humanity and the Earth need saving by exceptional figures. Outside the domain of fiction, recent groups such as the "Ecomodernists" have staked out technological ingenuity as our best way out of otherwise sure ecological disaster. Whether our salvation will stem from an extraordinary individual or profound technological advancement, these suggestions point to an apocalyptic end barring something bordering on the miraculous. My question, then, centers on this persistent anxiety: is modern eco-epistemology beset by a savior complex? What I wish to explore at present is how this tendency likely inhibits our ability to effectively act in a way that best mitigates the impending damage. Rather than argue, however, that these two novels are guilty of stymying collective action, I will contend that they are simply symptomatic of this proclivity—typical in Western literature—to produce savior figures. Furthermore, I will explore their nuanced approaches to the difficulties of representing an earth in ecological crisis, and how we might find alternatives to the capitalistic mode that has drastically accelerated environmental devastation.
This paper explores the didactic proposed by Roland Barthes at his last years as a director of studies at the École de Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (1971–1976). During that period, Barthes reflected on teaching with his students, published texts on the subject (such as « Écrivains, Intellectuels, Professeurs » and « Au séminaire »), and, above all, developed experimental didactic strategies in his seminar. In order to understand that didactic conception of Barthes as a whole, we refer first to the "fugue points" of his "dreamed seminar" ("non-knowledge", literary procedures and plural presentation), announced at the seminar of 1971–1972 ("Ten years of semiology: the Theory of the Text"), then to the thinkers who served as a basis for his pedagogical experimentation (Benveniste, Nietzsche and Bataille) and, finally, to the subjects and the concrete activities proposed at the seminars "The problems of thesis and research" (1972–1973), "The lexicon of the author" (1973–1974) and the two seminars named "The loving speech" (1974–1975 and 1975–1976), which can be considered his most radical courses. This description was made possible by consulting Barthes' manuscripts, at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and also by consulting the personal archives and texts of Barthes' students, besides the published seminars by Editions du Seuil.
Degenerative Realism. Novel and Nation in Twenty-First-Century France by Christy Wampole (review)
Victims of the Book. Reading and Masculinity in Fin-de-Siècle France by François Proulx (review)