Exiles, Émigrés and Expatriates in Romantic-Era Paris and London

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
London-Paris Romanticism Seminar


Exiles, Émigrés and Expatriates in Romantic-Era Paris and London


Symposium of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar  


Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, Thursday 12-Friday 13 April 2018


Keynote Speakers: Greg Dart (University College London), second speaker TBC


Scientific Committee:

Marc Porée (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris)

David Duff (Queen Mary University of London)

Caroline Bertonèche (Université Geronoble Alpes / Société d'Etudes du Romanticisme Anglais)

Dr Laurent Follliot (Université Paris-Sorbonne)

Professor Jean-Marie Fournier (Université Paris Diderot)

Dr Sophie Laniel-Musitelli (Université de Lille, Institut Universitaire de France)




Of the émigrés returning to France after the fall of Napoléon and the restoration of the Bourbons, Talleyrand, the Prince of Diplomats, notoriously quipped: “Ils n’ont rien appris, rien oublié”; “They have learnt nothing, and forgotten nothing”. Characteristic and accurate as it may have been, that contemporary response falls far short of the complex truth of displacement, of which emigration, exile and expatriation are crucially emblematic components. Crucial but highly differentiated. Whereas the émigré has tended to be viewed as a coward or a traitor to his nation, bitterly vilified as such, at least in the French Republican historiography, the exile has frequently been invested with a heroic status, and construed as outshining other foreigners in view of the moral and symbolic superiority ascribed to him, rightly or wrongly. As for expatriates, they have tended to occupy a grey zone of their own, a no man’s land of definitions, as befits their condition of residence, provisionary or permanent, in a country that is not their own, with specific reference to the last decade of the eighteenth century and early decades of the nineteenth, in and out of Paris and London.

The first aim of the Symposium, therefore, should be to sort out the semantics of the triple-E triad present in the title. Other topical, and highly sensitive, terms of the day, such as refugees or migrants, should also be investigated in the large context of the nineteenth-century, “the century of exiles”, as postulated by Sylvie Aprile(1), but also the century of revolutions, leading to the emergence of a new figure, a “personnage conceptual”, as it were (Gilles Deleuze), that of the political refugee. Secondly, we feel that the dominant ideological assumptions and axiological preferences cited above deserve a good amount of scrutiny, as to their real rather than alleged historical fairness. Thirdly, we intend to learn from what expatriates, exiles and émigrés no doubt did learn and remember. Our instinct, indeed, is that there is a vast lore or body of knowledge waiting to be explored, regarding the broadly cognitive dimensions of what it means, and feels, to find oneself cut off from, say Paris or London. If that implies giving the lie to Talleyrand, who served as French Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1830-1834, so be it ! Whether the claim may be made, as has been contended by Richard Sennett, that there is virtually more to be won than lost from being a foreigner, like Alexander Herzen, a Russian aristocrat forced abroad because of his politics and perambulating the capitals of Europe (Rome, Geneva, Paris, London), with his bearings more or less randomly adrift, is something we will be wanting to look at very closely (2). New forms of community were undeniably wrought from admittedly angst-ridden experiences such as exposure to others, loss of identity, separateness, segregation, ostracism, isolation, stigmatization; on the other hand, there were at least as many grievous memories of friends, relatives and prospects left behind as there were new opportunities and acculturations looming ahead.

Again, differentiation is of the essence: we will need to draw the line between temporary and permanent exile, the desire to return “home” or the resistance to that return, “inner émigré” (Seamus Heaney’s word, in 1975) and outer émigrés, the truths to be discovered in becoming a foreigner abroad versus the truths of place, belonging and rootedness. Differentiating between travelling and residing, moving freely through the country and being placed under house arrest, will also be of moot importance.

While it may very well intersect with widely explored issues such as location, dislocation, transculturality, transnationality, we are convinced that the topic of the Symposium leaves us plenty of room in which to navigate, manoeuver and draft an agenda of our own. That agenda will address the geography, the history, the economics, the sociology, the demography, the linguistics of, without forgetting the legal discourse on, exile, emigration and expatriation—-on an individual basis as well as from the perspective of entire communities, small or large (the French in London[3], the Brits or the Greeks in Paris, the Italians, the Germans or the Swiss, etc.). So will it connect itself to the larger issue of Hospitality versus Inhospitality. Indeed, observing today the extent to which, for the refugees in Calais, Boulogne, Paris, London, it is truly a matter of life or death whether they will be crossing a border or not, finding a job or not, should bring us to rethink the relevance, yesterday, of terms such as “host culture” or “playing host to”, no doubt with a sense of greater urgency.

But we will certainly be encouraging papers seeking to explore the more explicitly literary and cultural implications and developments of the theme, across the period from 1789 to the post-1815 years and beyond. Of which here is a list, including, but not limited to:


 -- Publishing, writing, translating, studying, reading (from) abroad

 -- Semi-clandestine, semi-official trafficking in cultural goods (cf. Michel Espagne’s concept of « Transferts culturels[iv] »)   

 -- Displacement, exile, expatriation in novelistic prose (the character Charles Darnay, in A Tale of Two Cities), in drama and in verse 

-- Great men in exile (Chateaubriand or Stendhal, typically) and the anonymous many

-- Gendered expatriation

-- Exile and the rigours of proscription  

-- Europeans on the move as a cultural narrative of the Romantic age   

-- The poetics of the return of the émigré/ expat/ exile: (after the fashion of the “return of the ashes” of Napoléon Bonaparte to France, in 1840) 

-- Exiles and Place (cf. Stephen Cheeke, Byron and Place History, Translation, Nostalgia, Palgrave MacMillan, 2003) 

-- Hostility to, and welcome of, foreigners and foreign cultures  

-- Modes and manners of forced estrangement  

-- Specific émigré communities (the Germans, the Swiss, the Italians, etc.)


Papers will be 25 to 30 mins max, followed by 10 minutes for questions.


Send title of paper and abstract (300 words), with brief CV, to marc.poree@ens.fr and d.duff@qmul.ac.uk by 31 January 2018.         


For further information about the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar, see http://londonparisromantic.com/





(1)  Sylvie Aprile, Le siècle des exilés. Bannis et proscrits de 1789 à la Commune, Paris, CNRS éditions, 2010; “Europe and Its Political Refugees in the 19th Century”, by Sylvie Aprile and Delphine Diaz, translated by Kate Macnaughton, 18 April 2016, http://www.booksandideas.net/Europe-and-its-Political-Refugees-in-the-19th-Century.html

(2)  Richard Sennett, The Foreigner Two Essays on Exile, London : Notting Hill Editions, 2017.

(3)  A History of the French in London: Liberty, Equality, Opportunity, edited by Debra Kelly, Martyn Cornick, University of London, 2013. Cf. Juliette Reboul’s French Emigration to Great Britain in Response to the French Revolution, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

(4)  Michel Espagne, Michael Werner, Transferts. Les relations interculturelles dans l’espace franco-allemand (XVIIIe – XIXe siècles), Paris : Editions Recherches sur les Civilisations, 1988.