Modern Languages - French
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The French Revolution instituted the promise of racial equality, a promise that, it could be argued, still goes unfulfilled today. While 'race' clearly features as an important issue in many early nineteenth-century literary works, such as Claire de Duras's Ourika, recent scholarship has been re-examining the significance of 'race' compared with other textual and contextual factors including gender and class. Similar debates have been engaged in relation to other cultural forms such as film and painting.  
, a short novel by Claire de Duras (née Lechat de Kersaint and later Duchesse de Duras) first published in 1823, is of remarkable appeal today. The first novel set in France with a black heroine, Ourika takes place at the end of the eighteenth-century when the Revolutionary ideals of universalism and human rights were undermined by the restoration of slavery and the disenfranchisement of women. Yet the novel has also been felt to transcend this context to portray the plight of oppressed Blacks and women, indeed of all displaced and marginalized groups. Ourika thus brings to the fore questions of race and gender, genre and context in surprisingly modern ways.

Is there today a risk of reading Ourika and other nineteenth-century works with an anachronistic emphasis on ‘race’? How far do similar issues of interpretation and contextualization arise in relation to other cultural forms belonging to earlier and later periods? These are among the key issues addressed in this symposium.

Left to Right: Adrianna Paliyenko, Doris Kadish, Adam Jolles, Roger Little, Martine Antle


10:00 am – Registration and coffee

10:30 amTextualizing ‘Race’

Chair: Aimée Boutin (Florida State University)

  • Roger Little (Trinity College, Dublin/Visiting Professor, Florida State University) – Ourika: A White Black?
  • Doris Kadish (University of Georgia) - Black Texts and Intertexts in Early Nineteenth Century France
  • Adrianna Paliyenko (Colby College) - Gender and Race: The Anatomies of Moeurs Coloniales in 19th-Century French Culture
12:30 pm – Buffet Lunch, Beth Moore Lounge, Longmire

2:00 pmEnvisioning ‘Race’

Chair: Rebecca Ruquist (Florida State University)

  • Martine Antle (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) – The New Heroines of French Vanguard Cinematic Audiences
  • Adam Jolles (Florida State University) - Visualizing a Postcolonial Aesthetic in France
3:15 pm – Coffee

3:45 pmTable Ronde with all speakers

4:30 pm – Close of symposium

Organizers: Aimée Boutin and Alec G. Hargreaves

For more information contact:
Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-1540. Telephone 850.644.7636 Fax 850.644.9917 E-mail Website 

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