France and Ireland in the Public Imagination

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8th annual conference of AFIS (Association of Franco-Irish Studies), Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, 25-26 May 2012

France has been a cultural icon for centuries. Its reputation for refinement, sophistication, gastronomy and architecture is appreciated and respected across the world. The very mention of 'France' or 'French' conjures up images of fashion, haute cuisine, literature, philosophy, sport, wine. The names Montaigne, Pascal, Molière, Racine, Napoleon, Rousseau, Voltaire, Flaubert, Balzac, Zola, Camus, Sartre, Mauriac, Derrida, Michel Platini, Thierry Henri, Fabien Pelous, all evoke immediate recognition in their respective areas.
Similarly, for a tiny island with a small population, Ireland has achieved amazing success through its missionary priests, writers, sportsmen and women, dancers, entrepreneurs, charity organisations. Its vast diaspora enables our political leaders open access to the upper echelons of power in most countries of the world. Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, River Dance, U2, Colm Meaney, Gabriel Byrne, Stephen Roche, Roy Keane, Brian O'Driscoll, Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy, Mary Robinson, Brian Friel, Edna O'Brien, Colm Toibin, John McGahern, all these names enhance the reputation of Ireland across the globe.
In both countries, the public imagination has been a dynamic social sphere where issues of politics, culture, religion and society have fused and informed each other.
This conference will explore how France and Ireland have assumed a unique position in the public imagination. Papers of 20 minutes duration are invited on any aspect of the theme and can concentrate on France or Ireland, or on a comparison of the two cultures.

We would particularly welcome panels on the following areas:
Gastronomy and public culture
Visual culture
Travel literature
Cultural Studies
However, any relevant treatment of the conference theme will be welcomed.
For this conference, AFIS is collaborating with ADEFFI (the Irish Association for French and Francophone Studies) and the Department of French Studies, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick.
Abstracts of not more than 200 words should be sent to the conference organisers:
Dr. Eugene O'Brien ( or
Dr. John McDonagh (
by Friday 16th of March, 2012.

Confirmed guest speakers are:
Dr. Pierre Joannon (Consul général de la République d'Irlande pour la région Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and independent scholar)
Dr. Eugene O'Brien (Head of Department of English Language and Literature, MIC)
Dr. Mary Pierse (UCC)