Calls for papers – Conferences taking place in November 2018

Owen and / in France
Université de Valenciennes, France, 5-6 November 2018
Deadline for proposals: 8 January 2018

Organizers :

Brigitte Friant-Kessler (Université de Valenciennes – CALHISTE)
Elise Brault-Dreux (Université de Valenciennes – CALHISTE)
Sarah Montin (Université Paris 3 Sorbonne-Nouvelle – PRISMES)

Keynote : Xavier Hanotte

This is the thing they know and never speak,
That England one by one had fled to France,
Not many elsewhere now, save under France
“Smile, Smile, Smile”, ll. 21-3

In partnership with the Oxford Center for Life-Writing conference “Wilfred Owen and Beyond”, to be held in Oxford 26-28 October 2018, the University of Valenciennes will host an interdisciplinary two-day conference 5-6 November 2018 to celebrate the centenary of Wilfred Owen’s death, near the Sambre and Oise canal, in the North of France. We invite scholars from a vast range of disciplines (literature, biographical approaches, history, local history, translation, and the visual arts). This conference will explore and privilege the link between Owen and France, and thus look at his oeuvre not only beyond his life but also beyond England.

Participants could for instance, though not exclusively, discuss the following questions:


– How was his poetry, imagination and creative thinking nourished by his various stays (Bordeaux, Pyrenees) in France?

– How did his encounter with the French poet and writer, Laurent Tailhade, in 1914, influence Owen’s own creative process?


– To what extent is his poetry inspired by the horrors witnessed and experienced in France as opposed to other geographic areas?

– the notion of “no man’s land” between the trenches and how Owen perceives that specific yet undefinable stretch of land

– War in France as sensory experience (territoriality of the battlefield, materiality of the mud, scents or particular odours, etc.

– The sense of exile: perceptions of the strangeness and foreignness of France


– The proximity of Valenciennes University with Ors, where, in the “Smoky Cellar of the Forester’s House” he wrote his last letter to his mother, and where he was buried in the communal cemetery, naturally encourages a peculiar focus on Owen’s last stay in France.

– We particularly invite contributions related to the poet’s “last” experience: his last march with the Manchester Regiment; his last written words; his last letters; his last completed poem, etc.


– Owen’s reading of French and francophone literature, in particular war literature of the times (Barbusse, Duhamel, Bourdeaux, Péguy, Verhaeren, etc.);

– Owen’s perception of and relationship with the French language

– The translation of Owen’s poems into French;

– Owen and modern memory: the “myth” of Owen and its impact in France (notably his appearances in Francophone literature), his resting place and last battleground as “site of memory”;

– His social and artistic networks in France;


– An intermedial approach is also encouraged as the conference convenes to explore how Owen’s experience in France has been transposed and rendered into other media (images, music, live performances) and how his vision of war and his own death have been aestheticized over the past century.

– On October, 10th, 1918, Owen wrote to Sassoon: “Catalogue? Photograph? Can you photograph the crimson-hot iron as it cools from the smelting? That is what John’s blood looked like, and felt like. My senses are charred”.

Photographs, postcards and archives likely to inform the local context in which Owen lived the last weeks of his short life are going to play an important role in this conference. We would like historians and archivists to join us for the event so as to stimulate studies around life in the army, in particular Owen’s regiments while he was posted in France, but also the social surroundings of Ors or Amiens during that time.

The working languages of the conference are English and French.

Conference timeline
Submission deadline: 8 Jan. 2018
Final acceptance of proposals: 1 Feb. 2018

Please send a 300-word proposal, a short biography with main publications, and 5 keywords relevant to your paper.

All the proposals for the conference should be simultaneously submitted to and/or

Association Wilfred Owen France
Oxford Center for Life-Writing conference


(posted 8 November 2017)

Abortion in the British Isles, France and North America since 1800
University of Paris-Sorbonne, France, 6-8 November 2018
Deadline for proposals: 23 December 2017

Conveners: Claire Charlot, Adrien Lherm (Paris-Sorbonne, HDEA EA 4086), and Fabienne Portier-Le Cocq (University François Rabelais, Tours, ICD EA 6297).

Around the world, 2018 will mark the anniversary of a series of events relating to the decriminalisation of abortion: the enforcement of the UK Abortion Act 1967 (50 years), the US Supreme Court ruling of Roe vs. Wade (45 years), and the Canada Supreme Court ruling of R. v. Morgentaler (25 years). The Republic of Ireland is also planning a referendum on the possible repeal of Article 8 of its Constitution which, if approved, would lead to the decriminalisation of abortion there too. In addition, shortly after the British General Election of 2017, Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced that women from Northern Ireland (currently excluded from the British Abortion Act) would be allowed to travel to mainland Britain to secure an abortion on the National Health Service.

Over the years, some countries have authorised abortion on therapeutic grounds (when the physical and mental health of the mother or health of the foetus is at risk), and sometimes extended terminations on other grounds, such as birth control or the right of women to take control over their bodies. In this instance, the context provided by the 1960s and the 1970s would prove decisive in the liberalisation of legislation; a move described by some as ‘permissive’ and by others as ‘progressive’. A reform of the laws on contraception often pre-dated the legalisation of abortion, helping to shape a context in which women sought greater freedom from child-bearing.

However, despite changes in attitudes and legal frameworks, the abortion debate goes on and many attempts have been and are still being made to turn the clock back. This can take various forms: street protests, physical violence (including assault and shootings), legal challenges, and demands for amendment or repeal of existing legislation from anti-abortion lobbies and political movements or parties created for the sole purpose of going back to a world without legally-available abortion.

The aim of this conference will be to consider all these developments in France and in the UK, Ireland, Canada and the United States, and to seek to explain how debate, the Law, as well as the situation on the ground, have changed over the last two centuries in the different countries concerned. Among the possible topics of interest for the conference are:

  • – quantifying abortions and relating the phenomenon to that of statistical knowledge;
  • – charting the evolution of the legislation or rulings which led to the criminalisation and then the decriminalisation of abortion;
  • – examining the social status of women affected by those changes in the countries concerned;
  • – describing and explaining changes in attitudes among the various actors involved: public opinion, the medical profession, politicians, members of the different churches, journalists, the activists of the different movements or political parties and of course women themselves;
  • – exploring the sociological profiles of women who seek abortions.

Such topics raise a number of key questions. Is abortion used today as a method of birth control? Can we speak of abortion on demand? Can we speak of a backlash against abortion? Such questions, it is hoped, will contribute to an interdisciplinary discussion among conference participants concerning the issues raised by abortion.

Proposals for papers on one of these topics – or others – are invited either in French or English, and may address only one aspect of the abortion question at a national level, or adopt a comparative approach. We hope to attract specialists from a wide variety of fields: bioethics, demography, law, religious studies, economics, history, medical studies, philosophy, sociology, political science, and so on.

Please send a proposal (a 500-word abstract and a short CV) to each of the three organisers: Claire Charlot (, Adrien Lherm ( and Fabienne Portier-Le Cocq ( The deadline is 23rd December 2017. Those submitting a proposal will be informed before the New Year whether their paper has been accepted.

Some papers will be published. A registration fee of 20 euros will be asked of participants.

Scientific committee: Françoise Barret-Ducrocq (Paris-Diderot, France), Claire Charlot (Paris-Sorbonne, France), Ann Furedi (Bpas, United Kingdom), Hélène Harter (Rennes 2, France), Françoise Le Jeune (Nantes, France), Adrien Lherm (Paris-Sorbonne, France), Janine Mossuz-Lavau (CNRS, CEVIPOF), Fabienne Portier-Le Cocq (Tours, France), Joshua C. Wilson (Denver, USA).

(posted 27 October 2017)

Screening the Industrial City
Saint Etienne, France, 8-9 November 2018
Deadline for proposals: 31 January 2018

Cinema, an art of the masses yet also a very bourgeois art form, was born in the wake of industrialisation in the late nineteenth century. The representation of the city has already been the object of numerous studies in various fields but that of the industrial city seems more of an uncharted territory. Yet, since its early days, cinema has presented the city like the place of the machine, technology and factory work as in Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory in Lyon, Louis Lumière, 1895; Metropolis, Fritz Lang, 1927 or Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin, 1936, to name but a few examples. It is therefore hardly surprising that the industrial city should be widely represented on screen.

Whatever the period, culture and genre considered (documentary and fiction such as social realism, the western, science-fiction, steampunk uchronia, etc.), cinema has always looked into these urban territories with aesthetic, spatial, social and political intents. The questions raised are thus diverse and encourage a multidisciplinary approach. That is why scholars from film studies but also researchers from other fields of expertise who are interested in cinema (cultural studies, urban studies, architecture, urbanism, sociology, history, art, musicology, linguistics, etc.) are welcome to submit a paper on the topic.

The theme of the conference, “Screening the Industrial City”, offers topics for discussion that may include but are not limited to:

1/ Temporality and spatiality: the expanding city (industrialisation, mill/company towns, boom towns, industrial cities); the declining city (deindustrialisation, post-industrial cities, ghost towns); the places and/or non-places of the industrial city (real, rebuilt or imaginary cities used as locations: architecture, urban design, etc.).
2/ Directors associated with industrial cities or territories: Terence Davies and Liverpool, Shane Meadows and Nottingham, Ben Affleck and Charlestown, the Dardenne brothers and Seraing, Robert Guédiguian and l’Estaque, Ken Loach and the industrial North, etc.
3/ Topoi: tradition/modernity, bustle/stasis, circularity/sinuosity and/or linearity, surface/subterranean-ness, fluxes/aesthetics of emptiness, disintegration and the poetics of ruins, etc.
4/ Sounds, music and words: original soundtracks, sound tracks and effects, dialogues, composers, the presence of instruments and/or musicians and/or records in films, etc.
5/ Living in the industrial city: daily life (place attachment, solitude or lack of privacy, dilapidation/slums or housing shortage, the city of exile as the unheimlich/uncanny); the impact of housing on the habits/habitus of working-class people and their feeling about the evolution/transformation of that type of urbanism.
6/ Politics and city/urban policies: cinema as the witness of regeneration campaigns; the debates around industrial heritage (museumisation, gentrification, social cleansing); the industrial city as the circulation of fluxes vs the post-industrial city as the growing fixity of social boundaries (security and increasing privatisation of former public spaces, gated communities, CCTV); cinema as memory of/nostalgia for the industrial city to go against a form of material and symbolical deprivation, to resist an official memory?

Proposals (300 words with a short biography indicating your current position, affiliation and research interests) should be sent by 31 January 2018 to and Notification will be sent by April 2018. The conference will be held in Saint Etienne, France, on the 8th and 9th of November 2018. A selection of papers will be published.

Keynote speaker:
Thierry Paquot, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Urbanism (Paris Est) and philosopher, author of many books about the city, architecture, urbanisation and film. He is also the co-editor of La ville au cinéma. Encyclopédie, Cahiers du cinéma, 2005.

Scientific Committee:
Jean-François Baillon (Université de Bordeaux)
Isabelle Cases (Université de Perpignan Via Domitia)
Andrea Grunert (Université de Bochum)
Georges-Henry Laffont (Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Saint Etienne)
Anne-Lise Marin-Lamellet (Université de Saint Etienne)
Gilles Menegaldo (Université de Poitiers)
Stéphanie Schwerter (Université de Valenciennes)
Nicolas Tixier (Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Grenoble)
Vincent Veschambre (Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Lyon)

Organising Committee:
Anne-Lise Marin-Lamellet (CIEREC), Georges-Henry Laffont (Transformations, IMU-EVS)

(posted 27 October 2017)

From Tokens of Love to Archived Relics: Private Life and Material Culture in Indian Ocean Societies
University of Reunion Island, France, 21-22 November 2018
Deadline for proposals: 30 January 2018

Sponsored by the Observatory for Indian Ocean Societies (O.S.O.I.- FED 4127), D.I.R.E. (E.A. 7387) and L.C.F. (E.A. 4549) research laboratories

Venue: Moufia Campus, Arts and Social Sciences Faculty, Saint-Denis, La Réunion

Writing the history of the private lives of individuals is no easy task. As pointed out by French historian Alain Corbin, any attempt to rediscover such a past is practically doomed to failure as “one can’t write the history of the private life of those who have left no trace”[1]. Are the private attitudes of those who are “marginal to or marginalized by society”[2], or those whose lives appear only briefly in archives, condemned to remain only briefly and superficially documented?

Contributing to the current dynamic wave of scientific research on the history and cultures of Indian Ocean societies, this conference will discuss material culture relating to private and emotional life in the Indian Ocean region[3]. How have past and present societies given shape and depth to affection and emotion and to feelings of love through material culture? In a vein similar to the initial research seminar entitled ‘Témoins d’amour, témoins de vie: Objets et images de l’intime’ held on the 12th of November 2015, this conference will focus on the study and interpretation of love tokens and other reflections, representations and expressions of romantic and sentimental feelings and discourses over the centuries. One of the main concerns will be to question the functions and meanings of these material objects in intimate exchanges or in what Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly qualifies as the “deepest corners of the soul”[4].

If giving shape to love and affection enables us to cast a different light on the question of the relation to the other, it also acts as a confirmation of the authenticity of the emotions being expressed: the gifts made to a loved person are tangible proof of the very existence of the love relationship, and as love tokens, they are likewise evidence of past subjectivities. In Rabindranath Tagore’s The Supreme Night, the memory of the sensual link which unites the disdainful young narrator to his would-be bride (who is incidentally wedded to a notary in his absence) is brought back by the sound of rustling fabric and the tinkle of bracelets and by the fragrance of her feminine intimacy[5]. Gifts can also testify to the existence of a contract and thus become a source of alienation. Just like a protraction of the body of the other, absent but reified, the object becomes, in its turn, a fetish. The concept of a material culture, defined by art historian Jules Prown as “the study through artifacts of the beliefs — values, ideas, attitudes, and assumptions — of a particular community or society at a given time”[6], will be at the heart of our discussions. To what extent do people’s relation to objects inform us of the relations between sexes and on intimacy?[7]

If objects are a means of discovering the past and working against the oblivion of intimate moments, echoes of past Indian Ocean generations, they are also a key source of information and knowledge of our relation to history and the very practice of historians. As underlined by French scholar Michel de Certeau, the elements selected and highlighted by a historian become a work of memory, a monument of its own[8]. What is the status of the object, a fragment of intimacy, which is unveiled to the public? Who decides to unveil the object? The boundary between the private and public spheres, the notion of heritage, but also of posterity will be vital questions addressed by this conference. It will also examine other aspects of intimacy such as the multiple readings and interpretations of the object at different points in time and space, and the question of popular and family history, with a focus on the amateur historians’ contribution to our general understanding of the past.

We welcome a diversity of formats ranging from the visual and the written to the tactile and the three-dimensional, to the gustatory, the audible and the olfactory (photographs, texts, correspondence, food packaging, scented jasmine petals found in love letters…). These tokens, whatever their age, will be analyzed as a means of questioning the relation to the other.

This event will be organized along (but not limited to) the following themes:

  1. History of private life and material objects: archaeology of daily life, love relations and sexuality, private and public lif
  2. Conservation and archives of the Indian Ocean: The objects as vessels for heritage, collective and individual memory, conservation policies regarding objects and artefacts (museums, libraries, archives), the historian and memory, heritage, amateur historians and their contributions, the relation between family, popular and academic history.
  3. Specificity of the objects of the Indian Ocean region: Role played by fetishism, the question of taboo, the object as work of art expressing love, the object as a sign (language and knowledge, symbol, hint), the social imagination: the status of the object which crystalizes people’s fears, desires, and memory.

The speech proposals (400 words max.) along with a short biographical note are to be sent before the 30th of January 2018 to both organizers:
Françoise Sylvos,
Florence Pellegry,

The selection will be confirmed by the 15th of March 2018.

The proposals will be studied by the scientific committee for the conference:
Pr Géraldine Chouard (Université Paris-Dauphine)
Pr Evelyne Combeau-Mari, (Université de la Réunion)
Dr Florence Pellegry, (Université de la Réunion)
Dr Sandra Saayman (Université de la Réunion)
Pr Françoise Sylvos, (Université de la Réunion)
Pr Vilasnee Tampoe – Hautin, (Université de la Réunion)
Pr Gilles Teulié (Université d’Aix-Marseille)

The oral presentations in French or in English will last 20 minutes each followed by a 10-minute discussion.

Registration fee for all speakers: 50 euros (30 euros for doctoral students or retired academics).

A selection of articles will be published in a bilingual volume after the conference.

Key words: Object, history of private life, love, memory, imagination, Indian Ocean
[1] Alain Corbin, Gilles Heuré, Historien du sensible, Paris : La Découverte ; 2000. p.154.
[2] Clare Anderson, “Introduction to Marginal Centers: Writing Life Histories in the Indian Ocean World”, Journal of Social History, vol. 45, n° 2, 2011, p.337.
[3] We will deal with the entire Indian Ocean region, which includes the islands in the south of the Indian Ocean (Comoros, Réunion, Mayotte, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles), the countries on the east coast of Africa (South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zanzibar etc.), but also India, Sri Lanka, Iran and Pakistan, the eastern part of the region (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, The Philippines etc.), without forgetting isolated island communities such as those of Diego Garcia, Maldives etc. and the austral territories.
[4] Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly in Brigitte Diaz, « Le XIXe siècle intime » Les choses, Le Magasin du XIXe siècle, n° 21, 2012, p. 281.
[5] Rabindranath Tagore, Aux bords du gange, Paris : Gallimard, « Folio » ; 2010. p.32-33.
[6] Jules Prown, “Mind in Matter: An Introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method,” Winterthur Portfolio, n°17, 1982, p.1.
[7] As underlined by Malanjaona Rakotomalala (INALCO) in her 2010 introduction to the 45th issue of Etudes Océan Indien which explores questions of love and sexuality in the Eastern part of the Indian Ocean, studies bearing on the history of private life in this region are few and far between. In fact, while researchers do focus on problems linked to gender and the social condition of women, the “realm of the relations between the sexes” still needs to be critically mapped out, cf. Malanjaona Rakotomalala, « Présentation », Amour et sexualité du côté de l’océan Indien occidental (Comores, Madagascar et île Maurice), Études océan Indien, n°45, 2010, p.7-12.
[8] Jean-Paul Resweber, « L’écriture de l’histoire », Le Portique, n° 13-14, 2004, URL : (visited on 18/06/2017).

(posted 9 November 2017)