An immersion in AMU’s scientific life: organizing an international congress with the LERMA

During the second year of formation within the Master ECMA, [1] the Laboratoire d’Études et de Recherche sur le Monde Anglophone (LERMA) [2] offers a most interesting internship. Indeed, while it is not scientific by nature – in that it does not imply to contribute to the Research Unit’s academic life through scientific productions – it provides the interested student with a ringside seat to the inner workings of the LERMA. Thus, during this internship, I met with several scientific and administrative actors of the world of research; I had the privilege to help them organize and see through an international scientific event that took place at AMU on the 20th and 21st of February, 2020: Empires coloniaux et cultures matérielles : Showcasing Empire. [3]

To take part in such an enterprise is crucial, I believe, to come to a better understanding of the multiple realities of the world of research. Indeed, it reveals the significant organizational skills one needs to develop to be a researcher. I observed how the different cogs of the Maison de la Recherche – administrative, technical, manual, and scientific – came into action so that the heavy machinery under and around the event might run as smoothly and seamlessly as possible. As an intern, I had to contribute to the liaison between all those different actors, learning from each of them in the process.

Contributing to the communication around the event, welcoming the participants and helping them around the campus are concrete examples of the tasks I was assigned. Besides the relational experience I thus developed, I benefited from more informal and much appreciated discussions with some of the participants; these talks, added to the scientific interventions of the congress, increased my “sense of direction” within a national as well as international scientific landscape. Indeed, taking part, at any level, to such events allows the researcher in the making to build a network which may prove very useful to consider potential scientific collaborations.

Consequently, in addition to a comprehensive formation in anglophone cultural studies within ECMA, the LERMA, helps Master students to discover firsthand the plural stakes of the world of research, which is much more complex than its mere scientific dimension, and to facilitate their insertion in the scientific career path. Indeed, this specific internship enables students to situate themselves within their own Research Unit and to understand the importance of collaboration with institutions as well as individuals, all actors of today’s research.

[1] Études Culturelles du Monde Anglophone.

[2] The LERMA (EA 853) is the Research Unit with which the Master ECMA is associated.

[3] This congress was organized by the LERMA along with the Société Française d’Études Victoriennes et Édouardiennes (SFEVE).

Toni Morrison and the place of Afro-American literature in the American canon

The recent death of the Afro-American novelist and essayist Toni Morrison has had a wide media coverage, in the United States as well as in France. It was the occasion for readers all around the world to discover or rediscover the literary masterpieces of a woman hailed by the New York Times as a “towering novelist of the Black experience”. [1] However, this title, flattering as it may sound, entails a question which Morrison herself tackled during her lifetime: what is the place of Afro-American literature in the American canon? Why did authors such as Morrison need to step up as literary spokespersons of the black experience in the first place?

The fact is the black literary voice was ignored by critics, long after historic battles for equal social rights were fought and won. On an artistic level, this obliteration is harmful not only to the black writers relegated to the “margins of the literary imagination” [2] (Morrison 1992 5), but also to the study of American literature as a whole: “[c]ontemporary critics fail to recognize the ways in that white authors construct themselves and their texts against blackness, thereby reinforcing a canonical construction built on, certain of, the exclusion it perpetuates.” [3] (Durkin 178). Thus, the American literary canon is not merely incomplete; it was stumped by the severage of an important constituent.

To Morrison, black presence in American literature was tamed as an object of study by American Africanism” [4] and sacrificed on the altar of white American identity: in order for the very notion of “American” to fully exist as a presence, its positive aspect had to stand out against a negative backdrop, namely the absence of the black experience and its voice. That is why Morrison strove through her novels to give back its shape and color to the erased Afro-American presence in American literature, to find and express “the something that defines what makes a book ‘black’” (McKay 152-153). [5]

By striving to instate Afro-American writings as an integral part of the national canon, Morrison has established at the scale of a whole culture an ontological independence, an empowerment of a people’s artistic presence and voice. As she concluded in her 1998 essay “Unspeakable Things Unspoken: The Afro-American Presence in American Literature”: “We are the subjects of our own narrative, witnesses to and participants in our own experience, and, in no way coincidentally, in the experience of those with whom we have come in contact. We are not, in fact, ‘other.’ We are choices.” (133) [6]

 

[1] Fox, Margalit. “Toni Morrison, Towering of the Black Experience, dies at 88”, The New York Times, August 6, 2019. Accessed on 19/11/19.

[2] Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. Picador, 1992.

[3] Durkin, Anita. “Object Written, Written Object: Slavery, Scarring, and Complication of Authorship in Beloved”, 2007 in Bloom, Harold, ed. Toni Morrison’s Beloved (New Edition). Infobase Publishing, 2009. pp. 173-194.

[4] Steiner, Wendy. “The Clearest Eye”, The New York Times, April 5, 1992. Acessed on 26/11/19.

[5] McKay, Nellie. An Interview with Toni Morrison, 1983 in Taylor-Guthrie, Danille, ed. Conversations with Toni Morrison. University Press of Mississippi, 1994. pp. 138-155.

[6] Morrison, Toni. “Unspeakable Things Unspoken: The Afro-American Presence in American Literature” in The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, 1988. pp. 123-163.

Working as an intern in a research centre: A peek behind the curtain

Contrary to what the timetable available on the digital work environment of our university may lead us to think, teaching hours are only the tip of the iceberg where the work of a researcher is concerned. This is what I was able to witness when my dissertation director, Dr. Marc Calvini-Lefebvre and his research group “Women and the F-Word” recruited me for a two-month paid internship. The group studies the various spectres of feminism and is part of the research centre of our English Department, the LERMA (Laboratoire d’Etude et de Recherche sur le Monde Anglophone) which hosted my internship.

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Entretien avec Madame Monique De Mattia-Viviès

Madame Monique De Mattia-Viviès est professeure à l’Université d’Aix-Marseille. Elle a obtenu son doctorat en grammaire anglaise en 1997, qui a été publié en 2000 sous le titre suivant : Le discours direct en anglais contemporain : approche énonciative (Aix-en-Provence, Publication de l’Université de Provence). Madame De Mattia-Viviès est professeure des universités depuis 2007. Avant cela, elle a été Maître de Conférences à l’Université de Provence entre 1998 et 2007. Son dernier ouvrage de grammaire vient d’être publié sous le titre de Leçons de grammaire anglaise. De la recherche à l’enseignement : syntaxe (Volume 1). Il sera suivi par deux autres ouvrages à paraître en 2019. C’est à l’occasion de ces publications qu’En-Globe a souhaité aller à sa rencontre afin d’obtenir son point de vue sur le domaine de la recherche.

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What is Fantasy to the French?

One of the unsettling aspects of working between two sets of linguistic settings in literature is the discrepancies that can exist between two countries’ literary history. Most genres are developed both in French- and English-speaking countries, whether through original works or translations and have their dedicated sections in bookshops and libraries. Fantasy is a literary genre whose popularity in the last few decades has never stopped growing. Although originally English – and its parenthood is often attributed to J.R.R. Tolkien and his novels – it has exported itself all-over the world and extended its grasp over several other media (films, series, graphic arts, video games…). Visual adaptations and original creations in the genre are numerous and as diverse as the written production the word encompasses; furthermore, most of the original works of fantasy are now available not only to an English speaking public but to the greater part world.
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A Challenging Dissertation – The Archives of the Maurice Edgar Coindreau Prize: Translating American Literature in France

As students in humanities, we are used to handling a large amount of abstract knowledge in our field. So that, when the supervisor of my Master dissertation, Professor Sophie Vallas, offered me the opportunity to work on a box of archives that had never been studied before, the perspective of working on real-life documents was highly appealing. These documents concern the Maurice Edgar Coindreau Prize: a literary prize that rewarded the best translation of an American book into French from 1982 to 2016. Throughout the years, the two secretaries conserved letters, press-cuttings, administrative papers, the business cards of the publishers they worked with, bills and official communiqués – among many other documents. To plunge into this box is to go back into the past, reaching a period which is not so distant and yet very much different from today. The archives bear witness of the transition from hand-written letters to e-mails, from franc to euro, or simply of time, the 1990 folder, for instance, is full of press articles announcing the death of the one whose name was given to the prize: Maurice Edgar Coindreau, who was the first translator of many renowned American authors from the inter-war years (Faulkner, Dos Passos or Hemingway for instance).

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Research Blog of the Masters Students in Anglophone Studies (Aix-Marseille University)