Afea annual conference

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Movement, Place, Fixity”

La Rochelle, 27-30 May 2015
Scientific committee:

Guillaume Marche(Université Paris-Est Créteil)
& Sophie Vallas
(Aix-Marseille Université)
All paper submissions must be sent to workshop chairs.
Deadline for abstract submission: 20 December 2014.

  1. Movement, Place, Fixity: Series on the Move, Series Standing Still
    Donna Andreolle (Université du Havre) & Shannon Wells-Lassagne (Université de Bretagne-Sud)

  2. Images and Portraits in Motion: When the Biopic Depicts America
    Delphine Letort (Université du Maine) & Taina Tuhkunen (Université d’Angers)

  3. Cultural Immobility
    Klaus Benesch (LMU München) & Virginia Ricard (Université Bordeaux Montaigne)

  4. Cultural Immobility
    Klaus Benesch (LMU München) & Virginia Ricard (Université Bordeaux Montaigne)

  5. US Businesses Abroad: Migration, Immigration and Ownership
    Agnès Delahaye (Université Lyon 2 Lumière) & Eve Bantman (Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès)

  6. Popular Culture(s) and Cultural Practices
    Danièle André & Elodie Chazalon (Université de La Rochelle)

  7. Returning
    Sandrine Baudry (Université de Strasbourg) & Céline Planchou (Université Paris 13)

  8. (Idior)rhythms of contemporary poetic communities
    Vincent Broqua & Gwen Le Cor (Université Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis)

  9. Out there… and back: return in American fiction
    Claire Fabre (Université Paris-Est Créteil) & Bénédicte Chorier-Fryd (Université de Poitiers)

  10. Books, libraries and collections – Transatlantic translations
    Susan Finding & Geoffrey Pitcher (Université de Poitiers)

  11. Roots & Routes: U.S. City Streets as Spaces of Mobility and Belonging
    Aurélie Godet (Université Paris Diderot) & Laurence Gervais (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre)

  12. Equating Institutional Inertia and Political Change: Toward a New Power Dynamic in the United States?
    Hamed Jendoubi (Université Paris Sorbonne) & Elisabeth Fauquert (IEP Lyon)

  13. Staging locomotion on screen
    Anne-Marie Paquet-Deyris (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre) & Gilles Menegaldo (Université de Poitiers)

  14. Religion in U.S. History and Culture: “The Transient and the Permanent”
    Nathalie Caron (Université Paris Sorbonne) & Sabine Remanofsky (ENS Lyon)

  15. Movement and Settlement: Themes and Modes in American Autobiography
    Ada Savin (Université Versaille-St-Quentin) & Laure de Nervaux-Gavoty (Université Paris-Est Créteil)

  16. Go West, Young Woman: Women’s Narratives of the West
    Claire Conilleau (Université de Cergy) & Amy D. Wells (Université de Caen)

  17. Hic et Nunc: An Issue in Modern Poetry in English from the USA
    Christophe Lamiot Enos (Université de Rouen)

  18. Mobility in Colonial America: migrations, social and economic mobility
    Elodie Peyrol-Kleiber (Université de Poitiers) & Anne-Claire Faucquez (Université Panthéon-Assas)

  19. The Uses of History in American Reform: The United States of Inertia?
    Elisa Chelle (IEP de Grenoble) & Alix Meyer (Université de Bourgogne)

  20. Traveling concepts
    Mathieu Duplay (Université Paris Diderot) & Jagna Oltarzewska (Université Paris Sorbonne)

  21. Tramping Through American Literature
    Alice Béja (Université Paris 8) & Pierre-Antoine Pellerin (Université J. Moulin Lyon 3)

  22. Occupying space: Territory, Movements and Protest
    Claire Delahaye (Université Paris Est-Marne-la-Vallée) & Hélène Quanquin (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3)

  23. Roots & Routes in American Popular Music
    Elsa Grassy (Université de Strasbourg) & David Diallo (Université de Bordeaux)

  24. Visualizing Memory: Photography, Moving Images and Racial Minorities’ positionality
    Sarah Fila-Bakabadio (Université de Cergy)


Movement, Place, Fixity: Series on the Move, Series Standing Still

Donna Andreolle (Université du Havre) & Shannon Wells-Lassagne (Université de Bretagne-Sud)
It is common knowledge that television is currently in a state of flux. As the divide between television and cinema weakens, and television takes on the subject matter, the cast and crews, and indeed the budgets previously only held by cinema; as the term “television” itself becomes a state of mind rather than a physical reality, with consumers “cutting the cord” and watching their fictions online; as the traditional formats for long-running series changes from 20-odd weekly episodes to more manageable season orders of 13 or 10 episodes, and mini-series become more common, it is clear that television is on the move. In this era of rapid change, however, tradition remains crucial: Bryan Fuller, the showrunner of Hannibal (NBC, 2013-), has been outspoken about the problems he encountered when circumventing the system of the television pilot, and the fact that television has largely assumed the traditions of cinema rather than creating its own, or that innovation in subject matter goes hand in hand with an inundation of remakes (Smallville (WB, 2001-2006, CW, 2006-2011) and Arrow (CW, 2012-) in the comic book world, Beauty and the Beast (CW, 2012-) or Once Upon a Time (ABC, 2011-) as both fairy tale remakes and recreations of previous television series, for the former, and Disney cartoons more generally for the latter), reinventions (the uncountable renditions of procedurals or medical dramas), and literary adaptations (Vampire Diaries (CW, 2009-), Game of Thrones (HBO, 2011-), Longmire (A&E, 2012-), The Leftovers (HBO, 2014-) suggests that innovation vies with tradition in our contemporary television mindscape, making the theme of movement and stasis, innovation and inertia, a particularly relevant one for our panel on television series.

Topics might include:

  • Invention or stagnation in television viewing: one could see webseries like The Lizzie Bennett Diaries (2012-), Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog (2008), or The Guild (2007-2012) as novel ways of using new media (while liberally borrowing from older ones), while the Netflix model of making entire seasons available at once has acknowledged now-widespread “binge watching”. This contrasts sharply with the continued reliance on Nielsen ratings and the struggle to account for delayed or pirated viewings.

  • “Six seasons and a movie!” (Community): individual TV series themselves are often in movement, be it the transfer of TV series from one medium to another, with the recurrent phenomenon of transposing series to comic books (Dollhouse, Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) or the silver screen (X-Files, Twin Peaks, Veronica Mars, Firefly), or indeed both, as the Star Trek franchise has so successfully done, whether it be as an expansion or as a conclusion to the series; from one network to another in order to save struggling series (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Arrested Development, Community); or one culture to another, given the increasing importance of foreign television series and their American counterparts in the US television landscape (The Killing, Broadchurch, The Office, House of Cards)

  • Movement and stasis within the diegesis of a series: from The Fugitive or Wild Wild West to The A Team or Supernatural, dramatic television has a long love affair with protagonists on the move, while sitcoms largely define themselves by their limited locales (the family home in series from Bewitched to New Girl, the workplace from Designing Women to The Office or Parks and Recreation).

This list is not exhaustive.

Please send an abstract of 250 words and a brief biography to Donna Andreolle ( and Shannon Wells-Lassagne (


Images and Portraits in Motion: When the Biopic Depicts America

Delphine Letort (Université du Maine) & Taina Tuhkunen (Université d’Angers)
The notions of “movement, place, and fixity” create a complex (almost paradoxical) dialectic when viewed in light of the biopic. The American “biographical films” or “filmed biographies” remain rooted in the history of the United States whose narrative they fashion by tracing the lives of emblematic characters. While they provide fixed forms to a multifaceted historical reality, they also spark off controversial debates on the capacity of cinema to create memory. The biopic constitutes “a modern film genre drawing on a rich tradition” (Tom Brown and Belén Vidal, The Biopic in Contemporary Film Culture, 2014), a film genre with deliberately blurred frontiers, in perpetual movement between stagnation and displacement, permanence and mutation. In Whose Lives Are They Anyway? : The Biopic as Contemporary Film Genre (2010), Dennis Bingham notes that when focalizing on “exceptional individuals” of various types, the biopic crosses different generic categories. Affected by the personality of the biographed characters, the chosen narrative structures and filming strategies, the genre has provided a number of filmic portrayals of heads of state and other well-known political figures (Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, John Reed, JFK, Richard Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover, George W. Bush, etc.), biopic depictions of people from the world of business and industry (Preston Tucker, Jimmy Hoffa, Howard Hughes, Steve Jobs, Jordan Belfort, etc.), artists and stars representing the world of music and showbiz (Billie Holiday, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Tina Turner, James Brown, etc.) and cinema (Oscar Micheaux, Charles Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Marilyn Monroe, Ed Wood, etc.), without forgetting the singular careers of sportsmen (Jake Lamotta, Babe Ruth, Muhammed Ali, Mike Tyson, Jim Brown, etc.) and of killers raised to fame thanks to the media (Al Capone, John Dillinger, Bugsy Siegel, etc.).

In the process, this often decried yet popular genre (appreciated by Oscar-awarding committees) proves capable of hybridizations, for instance by crossing its generic traits with animation films (Superstar : The Karen Carpenter Story, 1989), or by blending the historical with the fantastic (Abraham Lincoln : Vampire Hunter, 2012). Through its complex links with the past, the biopic constantly blurs the boundary between public and personal history, History- and storytelling. Claiming the authenticity of its sources (biographies, autobiographical accounts, historical narratives, documentaries, newspaper articles, etc.), it offers (allegedly) innovative interpretations of reputably known historical facts. Iconoclast and revisionist by definition, it is nevertheless not immune to hagiographic tendencies, perceptible through its narrative modes, visual and discursive strategies involved in the elaboration of filmic portrayals of men and women embroiled in politics (Alice Paul, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Angela Davis, etc.), or, as in the subcategory of artist biopics, of emblematic creators (Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles Pollock, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, etc.). Influenced by the migratory experiences of filmmakers, the ongoing mutations within the cinematographic genres, and by the avatarization of romantic heroes, the biopic blurs the boundaries between genres and promotes an understanding of history in motion.

In Bio/pics: How Hollywood Constructed Public History (1992), George F. Custen claims that the biopic genre (abbreviation of “biographical motion picture”) contributes to the education of the masses through the construction of national History. A further question of interest for discussion among American studies scholars therefore concerns the typology of the persons/characters foregrounded for their “exemplarity” since the first 20th century American biopics until our contemporary era. When the biographical film invites the viewers into more intimate spheres, without necessarily dispelling the mystery surrounding those “larger than life”, does it help us progress in our understanding of History? Or do these films reduce us, instead, to voyeuristic positions promoted by the media machine, keener on bedchamber secrets than on public debates on society? And if the screen adaptations of the lives of emblematic Americans associated with periods of mutation do create a parallel historiography, what kind of a “portrait gallery” do we end up with – also regarding European-based royal characters? In other words, in the absence of kings and queens ingrained in the political, economic and esthetic history of the “Old Continent”, what types of representative or outstanding figures are celebrated by the biopic (and its sub-categories) of the “New World”, known for its attachment to the spirit of mobility and the liberty of reinvention?

Besides these (naturally non-exhaustive) questions, this workshop will question the evolution of the biopic – “a troublesome genre” according to Tom Brown and Belén Vidal – as a cinematographic genre that appropriates facts and historical characters in an attempt to assert identity and political rights, more particularly of minorities (Iron Jawed Angels, Harvey Milk, Sally Hemings : An American Scandal, 12 Years a Slave, etc.). Despite its tendency to set up ideals, the biopic does not fix nor freeze History; it digs into the flaws of the existing portraits and texts, and introduces the spectator in a problematic relationship between the viewed object and the looking subject. For this reason, we invite those interested in our workshop to ponder not only the mechanisms of filmic image-making of “exceptional destinies”, but also the various discourses conveyed by this inherently unstable genre.

Please send an abstract to to Delphine Letort ( and Taïna Tuhkunen (


Cultural Immobility

Klaus Benesch (LMU München) & Virginia Ricard (Université Bordeaux Montaigne)
This workshop is based on the idea that attachment to place and forms of resistance to unfettered mobile life styles are the result of an existential human need for rootedness and the attachment to an immediate physical environment. While the importance of mobility as a major driving force of modernity has often been noted, resistance to movement seen as a positive cultural value has been largely neglected by scholars of the modern era.

Critical responses to increased mobility and the "restlessness" (Mowrer) of modern life can be traced across various disciplines and historical periods. Taken together, they account more fully for cultural conservatism in even the most economically and scientifically advanced countries. Cultural immobility seeks to reduce movement and speed rather than to enhance it. Unlike the modern mobility paradigm, which is predicated on an extension in/of space, cultural immobility— because it attempts to undo the limitations of place by making it a repository of new ideas and a fuller, "rooted," form of life—may be described as vertical and rhizomatic rather than horizontal. Far from being merely the antithesis or downside of modernity, critical stances vis-à-vis relentless progress and cultural change have thus been part and parcel of the dialectics of modernization.

Cultural immobility may involve one or all of the following: an attitude or a particular worldview (such as the one propounded by the "antimodern" modernist Ezra Pound), a type of individual and/or collective behavior accompanied by an expressed interest in a particular region or locality (e.g., Henry David Thoreau and the tradition of nature writing), or a cultural discourse/rhetoric with important repercussions in the social and political realm (e.g., Agrarianism during the 1920s and 30s).

Contributions on how specific notions of space and place have informed modern cultural criticism in the U.S., but also on exemplary thinkers critical of modern mobility both in the U.S. and in Europe (Henry David Thoreau, Paul Lafargue, Heidegger, Guy Debord, Peter Sloterdijk etc.) are welcome.

Proposals should be sent to: Klaus Benesch ( and Virginia Ricard (


Colonization, Emigration and the Back to Africa Movement: The Migratory Flows, the Historical Narratives, and the Circulation of the African-American Diasporic Experience

Lawrence Aje (Université Paul-Valéry) & Claire Bourhis-Mariotti (Université Paris 8)
Keywords: African-Americans, Colonization, Emigration, Pan-Africanism, Diaspora, Agency, historical narratives, historical sources, circulation.

Historical period: From the American Revolution to the present
In the aftermath of the American Revolution, the widespread emancipation of slaves and the resulting significant growth of the free colored population, led many observers to believe that racial cohabitation was impossible. The removal and geographic separation of manumitted slaves, whether voluntary or not, gradually became the prerequisite for their emancipation. Owing to the indefatigable efforts of the American Colonization Society, which was founded in 1816, the colonization scheme soon came to offer a durable solution to the black problem – from a white American point of view. Interestingly enough, although some prominent and vocal African-American leaders were then firmly opposed to colonization, in the face of continuing discrimination and dehumanization within the United States, increasing numbers of African-Americans were prepared to consider emigration as a “solution” – be it temporary or not – to escape oppression. And indeed, the idea of gathering the free black community around the project of a "black nationality" beyond the borders of the United-States became increasingly appealing to a segment of the free black community, who had grown tired of being relegated to second-class citizenship and of fighting against racial discrimination. In the early nineteenth century, these free Blacks identified themselves more and more as belonging to a black diaspora born out of slavery. Although Pan-Africanism developed towards the end of the nineteenth century, as an expression of the solidarity which united exploited people of color in response to European as well as American imperialism and colonialism, a diasporic consciousness emerged among the free African-American community - and other black communities all around the world - in the first half of the nineteenth century.

This panel seeks to explore the different aspects of the African-American diasporic experience, by analyzing how, from Prince Saunders’s Haitian project to Marcus Garvey’s back-to-Africa movement, and up to the present day, some African-Americans have striven to unite the black diaspora in places beyond the reach of U.S government control - in Canada, in Africa, in Central America, in the Western Territories, in Haiti, or more recently in South Africa. Another aim of this panel is to examine how some abolitionists and politicians, such as Abraham Lincoln, sought to deport free Blacks out of the United States, a phenomenon which has received little scholarly attention and that is fairly unknown to the general public. This panel will naturally interrogate the sensitive issue of what it means to live together, which is still a topical question today. Panelists are thus encouraged to reflect on the driving forces behind nationalisms and on the tendency for members of racial, religious, or other minority groups to voluntarily isolate themselves as a result of social exclusion.

Proposals should be sent to Lawrence Aje, Claire Bourhis-Mariotti,


US Businesses Abroad: Migration, Immigration and Ownership

Agnès Delahaye (Université Lyon 2 Lumière) & Eve Bantman (Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès)
If, as the theme of the conference indicates, movement and place are central elements in collective representations of America, what can we make of these notions in the context of globalisation? Borders on the American continent and across the globe are constantly challenged by the choices of entrepreneurs, who relocate abroad in search of new opportunities and markets and often live out their choices as full “lifestyle changes” they can write about, to inform others about the successes and pitfalls of exporting one’s business and entrepreneurial culture into foreign environments. Flows of goods, people and ideas issued out of the United States have indeed often acted as the vehicles of all kinds of exceptionalist visions of American identity and power—the American Dream, or the American way of doing business, among others.

The growing body of literature on US nationals abroad, now merging with the numerous studies on big and small US businesses operating beyond the official borders of national territory, has been documenting the processes of internationalization, the subtle workings of soft power, and the spread of US values across the globe, for better or for worse. It points to the existence of numerous communities of Americans living, working, and investing abroad, creating and running small and medium-size businesses, buying and developing property, and often, thanks to new technologies, sharing their experiences and newly-acquired knowledge and know-how with fellow business men and women, as consultants, writers, or bloggers.

This workshop seeks to address the motivations, incentives and projections of American entrepreneurs abroad, the variety of their experiences as business creators and investors, the nature of the economic power they exert in the territories where they choose to settle, and the ways these “pioneers,” as they sometimes call themselves, reflect and build upon their stories as they communicate with potential partners, investors, and clients at home. We wish to discuss the contrast between the fluidity of movement of people and capital with the fixity of identity, values and practices, by focusing on the processes of adaptation, as well as the strategies of resistance, that these businessmen and women develop as they build their new companies, and often their lives, in alien land.

We invite papers in English or French that document the experiences of American entrepreneurs and bridge the gap between business history, organisation studies and cultural history, to address both the business knowledge and the social and cultural representations resulting from adaptation to foreign legal, fiscal, business and work environments. Does this experience of mobility challenge their sense of identity as American entrepreneurs? What are the limits of immersion in terms of visibility, accountability and business failure? How do their relationships with local stakeholders relate to exchanges with stakeholders at home? Can one talk about cultural imposition and forms of domination or are change, adaptability and reciprocity relevant key words in this context? Connectivity is one of the great claims of discourses on globalization, but how do migrant entrepreneurs make use of ICT, and can these help bridge the intercultural gap? Can today’s narratives of relocation and living abroad in books, editorials, and blogs, be compared to earlier versions of colonial or imperial living?

Proposals of 500 words accompanied by a short bio should be sent to Agnès Delahaye ( and Eve Bantman (

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