Wordsworth: The French Connection
Wordsworth : The French Connection
École Normale Supérieure, Paris, 20-21 April 2017
Symposium of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar with the assistance of the Société d’Études du Romantisme Anglais (SERA)
Keynote speakers :
Simon Bainbridge, Professor of Romantic Studies, Lancaster University
Alain Vaillant, Professeur, Université Paris Ouest – Nanterre
Scientific committee/steering group :
Marc Porée (ENS Ulm, Paris)
David Duff (Queen Mary University of London)
Caroline Bertonèche (Université Grenoble Alpes)
Laurent Folliot (Université Paris Sorbonne)
Jean-Marie Fournier (Université Paris Diderot)
Florence Gaillet-De Chezelles (Université de Bordeaux)
Pascale Guibert (Université de Besançon)
Aurélie Thiria-Meulemans (Université de Picardie)
Introductory statement :
Under the deliberately provocative title of “The French Connection,” a series of propositions will be made by the organizers of the Anglo-French/Franco-English Symposium:
— that France was to William Wordsworth what Germany was to S.T. Coleridge, Italy to P.B. Shelley and Greece to Lord Byron. A “strange attractor”, in short. As well as a site of contradictions, where delinquency and propriety, misconduct and righteousness came to a head, leading to endless visions and revisions, visitings and revisitings, all subsumed under the general heading of Crime and Punishment.
— that to William Wordsworth (and Robert Jones), fresh from their crossing over to Calais, the July of the first Fête de la Fédération, in 1790, felt like Spring, as argued by Jacques Rancière in his Courts voyages au pays du peuple(Seuil, 1990), with “benevolence and blessedness / Spread like a fragrance everywhere, when spring / Hath left no corner of the land untouched” (The Prelude 1850, l. 357-359)… To be followed by the autumn and the winter of disenchantment and radical disaffiliation. After claiming the equivalent of a flamboyantly Hugolian “Je suis la Révolution”, was Wordsworth not to retort : “Je n’ai jamais été la Révolution” ?
— that the French years of William Wordsworth are to be perceived as more than “years”; they should be conceived of as a “Period”, decisively formative and pointedly characteristic, as in, say, the Blue or Rose Period of Picasso.
— that those years and months and days are far from having delivered all their secrets, of a private, emotional, sexual, political, public nature, virtually vindicating André Malraux’s controversial contention: “Pour l’essentiel, l’homme est ce qu’il cache : un misérable petit tas de secrets.” (Antimémoires)
— that France is an important landmark in the discussion of such a notion as “Wordsworth and Place”, along the lines of Stephen Cheeke’s Byron and Place : History, Translation, Nostalgia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003). Likewise, we aim at availing ourselves of a broad field of enquiry known as “new geography” or “cultural geography”, which draws on a wide range of cognate disciplines and aims at a sustained rethinking of space and place, including “topo-biographical studies.” Translation studies will also be solicited, in view of the two recent translations into French of The Prelude: by Denis Bonnecase, in 2013, and by Maxime Durisotti, in 2016.
— that the long and short of Wordsworth’s trips to France (including the one in 1820, to Paris and the Musée du Louvre, where he met Annette Vallon [“Madame William”] and Caroline for the last time) has to do, essentially, with coming home. That the point of travelling is not how one goes abroad and what one discovers there–nor is it about how one talks about places one has never been to, as Pierre Bayard would mischievously argue. No, Wordsworth did go to France, but the problem is how did he go back to England, and in what state or condition ?
From which it follows that the Symposium will be exploring the critical relevance of five verbs of action, forming a sequence : Partir / Revenir / Devenir / Traduire / Trahir // Leaving / Returning / Becoming / Translating / Betraying.
Only connect… the prose and the passion !
List of possible topics:
- Wordsworth and Revolutionary France
- Wordsworth and the French wars
- The Prelude and its revisions
- French translations of Wordsworth
- Paris in the 1790’s
- Wordsworth and Annette Vallon
- Vaudracour and Julia
- Wordsworth’s Continental tours
- Emigrants and borderers
- Wordsworth and Rousseau
- Wordsworth and French literature
- Wordsworth and French art (e.g. Charles Le Brun)
- History of Wordsworth scholarship in France
- Wordsworth and French literary theory
Duration of papers : 25-30 minutes maximum
Deadline for proposals : 31 January 2017