Job interviews and campus visit in Chicago and Miami

During the last few months I have been spending a considerable amount of energy and time in several application processes in order to get an academic job, especially in the US but also in the UK. The American recruiting process starts quite early, usually in September, and it is quite long and challenging, as it contemplates three or four steps and a lot of documents, application forms, letters and statements to be submitted. Since I was in Atlanta during the last fall semester, I have been writing and sending cover letters, CVs, teaching and research statements, sample syllabi, writing samples, asking for and delivering reference letters etc. It is almost a full time job that can require lots of energies and can prove to be very hard in many ways. Since it compels you to confront with your own achievements, your personal capacities, skills and limits, and to handful potentially stressful situations, it is an extremely enriching experience, too. I have been applying for several positions and I am still in the process, so I cannot say if I will be successful or not. Despite this, I have learned many things, especially in terms of how the American academic system works, sometimes in a very different way if compared to the English and, more generally, to the European one. I have been shortlisted for an interview at the MLA annual convention in Chicago in January, for the position of Assistant Professor in Francophone Caribbean literatures and cultural studies at the University of Miami (FL). This was my first job interview and I have been very satisfied. (By the way, Chicago is an amazing city and I have found out that its founder, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, was probably Haitian!)

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable - Founder of Chicago

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable – Founder of Chicago

Next, I have been selected for the campus visit in Miami, which took place last week. It has been really challenging, especially because of the long trip and the jet lag. I have been asked to spend an entire day on campus, with many interviews and meetings, lunch and dinner, with all the staff of the department, and I gave a paper, too. It has been really exciting: everybody was extremely nice and welcoming and, above all, I met plenty of keen scholars and professors with whom I could discuss about my research and teaching projects in a fruitful way. It would be amazing to work in such a stimulating scholar community! And the location, of course, would be a perfect one to work on the Caribbean. The paper I presented was entitled Caribbean Biopolitics and Literature: NourbeSe Philip and Édouard Glissant. It has been well received, with many questions and debates. I am going to further develop it in my next publication, for the special issue of the International Journal of Francophone Studies (IJFS) I am currently preparing with Louise Hardwick, on the topics of biopolitics, violence and race in Francophone postcolonial literatures (forthcoming in 2015).

University of Miami at Coral Gables

University of Miami at Coral Gables

Visiting scholar at Emory University, Atlanta US

Emory Campus - the main quad

Emory Campus – the main quad

I have been spending more than a month as a visiting scholar at Emory, invited by Professor Valérie Loichot and thanks to my Marie Curie fellowship. It has been an amazing experience! Emory is one of the best universities in the United States and it is such an exciting environment where to do research, meet other scholars and discuss with them about literature and philosophy. During this period, I have been attending many different conferences, museum guided tours, readings, theatre shows, talks and presentations (in French studies, Italian studies, gender studies, African cinema studies etc.) and I had the opportunity to meet other scholars and discuss about my work with such important academic personalities as Valérie Loichot, Geoffrey Bennington and Elissa Marder in the Department of French and Italian and in the Comparative Literature one. Emory University has really huge resources and equipment for research, and a very good library, too. I could work on my monograph, especially on a chapter that I am currently developing on Glissant, Nancy and Derrida on the subjects of community, hospitality, relation and the stranger. I have also made a public presentation (or ‘guest lecture’) of the first chapter of my book, that I have submitted as an article, too. The text I have presented and discussed at Emory is entitled ‘Le lieu tremblant du poème-monde chez Glissant et Heidegger’. It is about the complex relation between poetry and the place (glissantian ‘le lieu’, heidegger’s ‘ort’) and the conflictual-agonistic aesthetic that derives from it in both the German philosopher and the Martinican poet and philosopher. In particular, I have focused on the late Heidegger’s essays on language and poetry and on Glissant’s Soleil de la conscience (1956). The article has been well received by the audience and gave birth to very interesting discussions that are certainly going to influence my future work on this topic. During my stay, I have also applyed for many academic positions in the States and both Valérie and Michael Wiedorn helped me a lot in the application procedures (it’s a very hard job!). Well, fingers crossed! I have also assisted to a couple of Valérie’s courses in both English and French (to understand better how is teaching in the States) and I have also participated in some activities of the Italian ‘side’ of the department, especially with Simona Muratore (who also works on Italian migrant literature I am very interested in).

Emory is an exciting place to do research, but I have also received a great human welcome and met people that have deeply marked my intellectual journey. I would like to thank them all, even if I cannot quote all their names here. Everyone gave me great inputs that will deeply influence my future work and maybe push it in new directions that I hadn’t considered before (and this is what makes research a great thing and gives it its most authentic and creative sense, isn’t it?). The contacts I have established and developed here will be very useful for my career, but above all I hope that I could give my personal contribution to the development of this exciting intellectual community.

The Emory Library reading room

The Emory Library reading room

A trip at Sweetwater Creek, enjoying the fall colours.

A trip at Sweetwater Creek, enjoying the fall colours.


The Black Jacobins Revisited: Rewriting History

On Sun 26th and Mon 27th October, Dr Louise Hardwick will participate in The Black Jacobins Revisited Conference jointly organised by the Universities of Glasgow and Liverpool and the Liverpool International Slavery Museum and supported by a UK Arts & Humanities Research Council grant held by Dr Rachel Douglas.

The event will be an invaluable opportunity for Louise to hear international speakers presenting the latest research on C.L.R. James and the Haitian Revolution, material which will inform our joint research project, and which Louise also teaches at Undergraduate and Graduate level here at Birmingham.

You can view further details here.

Colloque sur Aimé Césaire à Cerisy-la-Salle

« des mots, ah oui, des mots ! mais des mots de sang frais, des mots qui sont des raz-de-marée et des érésipèles et des paludismes et des laves et des feux de brousse, et des flambées de chair, et des flambées de villes » (Cahier d’un retour au pays natal)


Je viens de rentrer d’un magnifique colloque sur Aimé Césaire en occasion du centenaire de sa naissance, qui a eu lieu dans le château de Cerisy-la-Salle, en Haute Normandie, du 4 à l’11 septembre 2013. C’était une semaine extrêmement riche, culturellement et humainement. Le colloque Césaire 2013 : « parole due » a été organisé par Romuald Fonkoua et Anne Douaire-Banny et a accueilli de nombreux participants venant de tous les continents et – c’est l’une de choses qui a véritablement contribué à la réussite du colloque – de plusieurs générations : des spécialistes qui ont connu personnellement Césaire et qui ont consacré toute leur vie à l’étude de son œuvre, (Lilyan Kesteloot, Mamadou Ba, Bernadette Cailler, Christian La Poussinière, René Hénane, Liliane Pestre de Almeida, Daniel Maximin etc.) ; des professeurs comme Jean Jonassaint, Mary Gallagher, Jean Bessière, Kunio Tsunekawa, Anny Dominique Curtius ; de très jeunes chercheurs qui ont expérimenté de nouveaux parcours critiques dans l’œuvre du poète martiniquais, comme Florian Alix, Louise Hardwick, Malik Noël-Ferdinand, Tiphaine Malfettes, Nicolas Hossard, Delphine Rumeau. Malheureusement, je ne peux pas citer ici tous les participants et surtout les arguments de leurs communications et des longs et passionants débats auxquelles ils ont donné lieu (mais vous retrouvez le programme complet ici, avec les résumés). Les actes du colloque devraient paraître prochainement – avant la fin de l’année – chez Présence Africaine et j’en manquerai pas d’en rendre compte ici.

Pour l’instant, ce que j’aimerai surtout retenir c’est l’atmosphère d’amitié et de convivialité que cet endroit magnifique, géré de manière vraiment impeccable par une nombreuse équipe, a rendu possible. Nous avons eu le temps pour discuter ensemble de poésie et de littérature, pour nous connaître et nous amuser, pour partager les repas et le Calvados, pour faire des promenades dans cette magnifique campagne et pour lire des poèmes et des contes et aussi pour chanter une « opéra », avec les participants de l’autre colloque sur « Moralité et cognition », qui avait lieu au même temps à Cerisy.

Les participants au colloque

Les participants au colloque

N’étant pas spécialiste de Césaire, je n’ai pas présenté de communication, mais je eu vraiment un grand plaisir d’écouter et d’apprendre beaucoup de choses sur ce poète incontournable. Ce qui filtrait à travers les communications et les débats, c’était vraiment une passion inépuisable des mots, un cri qui demande à être écouté et interprété, sans jamais épuiser sa puissance poétique et sa force d’arpenter le monde et d’en pister les chemins de liberté. « La poésie », écrivait Césaire en Poésie et connaissance, « est cette démarche qui par le mot, l’image, le mythe, l’amour et l’humour m’installe au cœur vivant de moi-même et du monde ». Je crois que pendant ces journées de Cerisy, grâce à Césaire et à ses exégètes, on a tous eu cette vivante sensation d’être installés de manière nouvelle et plus intense en soi-même et dans le monde.

Je vous laisse avec un poème formidable, tiré de Moi, laminaire (1982), que j’ai découvert pendant le colloque grâce à la généreuse interprétation de notre ami Malik (qui est aussi un grand conteur antillais et qui a cadencé la “parole de nuit” d’une cour qui ne voulait pas dormir):



le mot est père des saints

le mot est mère des saints

avec le mot couresse on peut traverser un fleuve

peuplé de caïmans

il m’arrive de dessiner un mot sur le sol

avec un mot frais on peut traverser le désert

d’une journée

il y a des mots bâtons-de-nage pour écarter les squales

il y a des mots iguanes

il y a des mots subtils ce sont des mots phasmes

il y a des mots d’ombre avec des réveils en colère


il y a des mots Shango

il m’ arrive de nager de ruse sur le dos d’ un mot dauphin

(Aimé Césaire, La poésie, Paris, Seuil, 2006, p. 416)

Re-writing Friday’s silence: a post-colonial journey through Defoe, Coetzee, De Certeau, Derrida, Spivak, Walcott and Glissant

I have recently found out the audio file of a paper I read some years ago, during an  important annual arts and literature festival in Schio (near Vicenza, Italy), “Azioni Inclementi” (2009). The main theme of the festival was that of the island (Robinson’s island and Friday’s island) and we invited to speak, among others, Edouard Glissant and Claudio Magris. Unfortunately, my speech is in Italian and not everybody may understand it. Anyway, I think it’s good to share it on this research blog, as it deals with some fundamental issues of my present research, such as the complex and ambivalent relation between writing, power, violence and the silence of the colonized, the subaltern etc. Starting from the important novel Foe by J.M. Coetzee (a postcolonial rewriting of Robinson Crusoe by W. Defoe) I try to reflect on some possible ways in which postcolonial writing and thinking has reworked and resisted to the “epistemic violence” of colonialism, which had excluded Friday (the colonized) from the space of writing and representation (the “scriptural economy”, according to Michel De Certeau) constructing him as the silenced Other of the Western dominant rationality (the cultural model for the homo oeconomicus). In Coetzee’s novel, Friday’s tongue has been cut off.

You can find the written version of this paper here.

And here is the audio of the speech, entitled “Dal silenzio di Venerdì all’arcipelago del tutto-mondo”: 


Podcast: “The Living and the Poetic Intention: Édouard Glissant’s Biopolitics of Literature”

Eventually, I can say that the conference on Biopolitics and Literature Louise and I have organised at the University of Birmingham – Modern Languages on June the 26th, has been a great achievement. First of all, it’s the very first conference I have organised and I am quite proud of that. But this is not the most important thing. We had five papers presented that I consider of very high quality and, even if the arguments and the research fields were quite different, all papers showed strong bonds and linkages between them. The subjects ranged from the Rwanda genocide to the memory of the Haitian “persil” genocide, from the construction of the “Creole” identity to the “Coolies” literature in the Francophone Caribbean; they analysed texts by Edouard Glissant, Edwige Danticat, Gilbert Gatore, Maurice Virassamy and Lafcadio Hearn. However, all papers deeply questioned the complex relationship between literature, historical violence and biopower, that was the main topic of our colloquium. Above all, I think we had a great time with Michael, Judith, Nicki and all the other people (professors, researchers and remarkable students) who attended the conference. Everybody was interested in the arguments we discussed together, during the panels, of course, but also at the dinner we organised after the conference.


If you want to find some more informations about the conference (abstracts etc.), please go to the conference page on this blog.

I would like to share with you a podcast of my paper: The Living and the Poetic Intention: Édouard Glissant’s Biopolitics of Literature. You can listen to it here:

And this is the main bibliography related to my paper:

Agamben, G. (1995) Homo Sacer. Sovereign power and bare life, trans. by D. Heller-Roazen, Stanford – California, Stanford University Press, 1998.

Baucom, I. (2001), ‘Specters of the Atlantic’ in The South Atlantic Quarterly, Volume 100, Number 1, Winter 2001, pp. 61-82.

Bazzicalupo, L. (2010) Biopolitica. Una mappa concettuale, Roma, Carocci.

Deleuze, G. (1995) ‘Immanence: A Life’ in Id. Pure Immanence. Essays on A Life, New York, Zone Books, 2005.

Esposito, R. (2004) Bíos. Biopolitics and Philosophy, trans. and pref. by T. Campbell, University of Minnesota Press, 2008.

Foucault, M. (1976) The History of Sexuality Vol. 1: The Will to Knowledge, London, Penguin, 1998.

Foucault, M. (1985) Life: Experience and Science, in Id. Essential Works of Michel Foucault. 1954-1984. Vol. II – Aesthetics, Method and Epistemology, ed. by J.D. Faubion, New York, The New Press, 1998, 465-478.

Glissant, É. (1990) Poetics of Relation, trans. by B. Wing, Ann Arbor, U. of Michigan Press, 1997.

Glissant, É. (2010) La terre le feu l’eau et les vents. Une anthologie de la poésie du tout-monde, Paris, Galaade Éditions.

Glissant, É. (2012) Rien n’est Vrai, tout est vivant’ in Francofonia. Studi e ricerche sulle letterature di lingua francese, 63, 2012, special issue: “Le frémissement de la lecture. Parcours littéraires d’Edouard Glissant” (eds. C. Biondi and E. Pessini).

Nancy, J.-L. (1992) Corpus, Paris, Métailié.

Philip, N. (2008), Zong!, Wesleyan University Press.

Conference trip to Atlanta – Georgia Institute of Technology

Back from my first conference trip in the USA! It has been amazing! As I wrote in the previous post, Dr Louise Hardwick and me have attended an important annual conference, co-organized by 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium and the Georgia Institute of Technology, on the theme of ‘Traces, Fragments, Remains’. We both presented a paper, in a panel chaired by Louise and entitled ‘(T)Races, Memories, Identities’. This was the program of our panel:

CHONG WOJTKOWSKI BRETILLON, City University of New York, Some Kind of Other: Invisibility and Whiteness in French Hip Hop Music

ALESSANDRO CORIO, University of Birmingham, L’errance violente du poème: the ambivalence of the Trace in Édouard Glissant

LOUISE HARDWICK, University of Birmingham, «Comment répondre à ces pourquoi d’enfants» Tracing Childhood, tracing slavery in Francophone Caribbean Literature

I have also attended many other interesting panels, among which two panels on Glissant, with Valérie Loichot, Michael Wiedorn, Hugo Azérad, Ania Kowalik and Lovia M. Mondésir.

Louise, Michael and me at the Georgia Tech

Louise, Michael and me at the Georgia Tech

We were invited and hosted (in his beautiful house) by Dr Michael Wiedorn, a specialist in Francophone Caribbean Literature at Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts – Georgia Institute of Technology. Michael helped us to know the city, the Georgia Tech and Emory campus, Martin Luter King birthplace and museum (and some very nice coffee shops and restaurants, to taste the gorgeous tasty food of the south!)

This visit was conceived in order to develop future projects with a view to nurturing links between the University of Birmingham, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Emory University in order to explore future funding opportunities, research conferences and joint publications. We developed plans with Michael Wiedorn for a one-day International Research Colloquium, Postcolonialism, Race and Biopolitics, to be held at the University of Birmingham on 26th June 2013. Michael has accepted to be a keynote speaker at this event.

I have also met Prof. Valérie Loichot (specialist on Glissant and Caribbean Literature) and Prof. Geoffrey Bennington (specialist on Derrida and French Theory), from Emory University, and they suggested me to spend one month at Emory next year as Visiting Scholar, to work on Glissant and literary theory.