As the project develops, I thought I’d introduce a monthly round-up of my more ‘traditional’ research activities – that is to say, the activities which involve me doing lots of reading, writing, listening and thinking, and will lead to future research publications and funding bids… in turn, this also influences the way I teach topics to my students.
I ended 2014 with a research visit to Paris, to undertake archival research in a number of libraries. Thanks to online databases, I had a pretty good idea of what would be of interest, but as ever, being ‘sur place’/on the spot always throws up extra, unexpected leads. The hours of reading and investigating new sources – printed and audiovisual – have helped me move forward with my own writing. I even queued outside for over two hours to get into the Centre Pompidou Library! It was 2nd January, and it appeared that every student in Paris had headed there to revise for their start-of-year exams… It’s the first time I’ve encountered a library with a one-in, one-out policy! Once I finally got inside, I made my Zobel enquiries and also visited the excellent exhibition on Marguerite Duras.
Another fantastic exhibition was the Haïti: Deux siècles de création artistique retrospective at the Grand Palais, where I booked in for a guided tour to get the most out of the display.
I teach the Haitian Revolution as part of a Second Year module, so this was a fascinating opportunity to find out more about Haiti and to think about new ways of teaching Haitian history and culture. I was pleased to spot a picture which is often reproduced on book covers: the striking portrait of Jean-Baptiste Belley, representative of Saint-Domingue and first black man to be made part of the Convention, one of the interim governing bodies during the French Revolution. The portrait is by the (male) French painter Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson (who took the additional names of his adopted parent). I was also struck by Sasha Huber’s intricate portraits of Papa and Baby Doc, created using staples. The final effect is an astonishing reflection on the violence these men inflicted.
You can see images from the exhibition and hear exhibitors speaking about them (in French) here: http://www.la1ere.fr/2014/11/19/exposition-au-grand-palais-paris-haiti-l-art-est-sa-potion-magique-207986.html
Back in the UK, I was pleased to receive copies of my latest publications:
- a special issue which I guest-edited with Alessandro Corio of the International Journal of Francophone Studies, featuring articles by Charlotte Baker, Alessandro Corio, Judith Misrahi-Barak, Michael Wiedorn, C. J. Bretillon and Dominic Thomas
- an article in French about teaching Aimé Césaire which arose from a 2013 international conference to mark Césaire’s centenary which was held at Cerisy-la-Salle and co-organised by the Sorbonne, Cheikh-Anta-Diop University Dakar and Rennes.
Full references are on the new Publications page.