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

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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.

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.

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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.

Séjour de recherche en Martinique

Je viens de rentrer d’un très beau séjour de recherche en Martinique, avec ma collègue Louise Hardwick, du 8 au 21 avril. C’est mon troisième voyage dans cette île magnifique des Caraïbes et désormais je peux dire de la connaître de mieux en mieux. Cette fois-ci, nous avons séjourné à Schoelcher, une commune tout près de Fort-de-France, juste au nord sur la côte Caraïbe. Nous avons loué une voiture et cela nous a permis de nous déplacer tranquillement, soit vers Fort-de-France soit vers le Nord et le Sud de l’île. Ça a été un voyage intense et plein de visites et de rencontres humainement et intellectuellement enrichissants (deux aspects de la « recherche » qui ne devraient jamais être séparés). Nous nous sommes rendus plusieurs fois à la Bibliothèque Schoelcher à Fort-de-France (un magnifique bâtiment en style art nouveau, exposé à Paris et ensuite déplacé en Martinique, ouvert en 1893). Nous avons visité aussi le très joli Écomusée de la Martinique à l’Anse Figuier (où il y a en ce moment une importante exposition sur Joseph Zobel), le Musée Régional d’Histoire et d’Ethnographie et les Archives Départementales.

Bibliothèque Schoelcher à Fort-de-France

Bibliothèque Schoelcher à Fort-de-France

On a aussi profité des beautés de ce pays fascinant: pas seulement de ses plages magnifiques et tellement différentes (de la baie du Diamant, aux plages noires du nord à l’eau cristalline et calme de l’Anse Figuier), mais aussi de ses petits villages (Les Anses d’Arlet, Saint-Pierre, Tartane, Carbet, Rivière Pilote, Gros Morne, Fonds-Saint-Denis etc.), de ses routes qui traversent la forêt tropicale, comme la Route de la Trace, de sa capitale créole Fort-de-France, avec ses belles librairies (comme l’ancienne Librairie Alexandre, où nous avons acheté des livres sur la littérature et l’histoire antillaise, qu’on a parfois du mal à trouver ailleurs), ses églises, ses marchés, ses quartiers populaires, comme Texaco et Trenelle, et la Place de la Savane, qui vient d’être réaménagée. Nous avons aussi visité le campus de l’UAG à Schoelcher et le nouveau Campus Caribéen des Arts, qu’on vient d’ouvrir à Lamentin.

Moi avec Saint-Pierre et la Montagne Pelée, vus de la Vierge des Marins

Moi avec Saint-Pierre et la Montagne Pelée, vus de la Vierge des Marins

Mais surtout, on a fait des rencontres très intéressants pour nos recherches : avec un journaliste, traducteur et écrivain comme Rodolf Etienne (notamment traducteur en créole de “Les Indes” de Glissant et de “La tragédie du Roi Christophe” de Césaire et avec lequel nous avons fait un entretien à propos de ses traductions et de ses idées sur la pan-créolité). Nous avons rencontré aussi deux grands amis d’Édouard Glissant, comme le chercheur et écrivain Manuel Norvat, qui vient de soutenir une thèse de doctorat sur l’œuvre de Glissant à Paris III, et le céramiste-sculpteur Victor Anicet, dont l’œuvre s’est beaucoup inspirée de la longue amitié avec son compagnon, commencée dans les années ’60. Il nous a expliqué tout cela lors d’une visite de son atelier, pendant laquelle il nous a montré son travaille artistique et raconté son engagement culturel et politique. Nous avons visité l’espace Foudres d’Édouard Glissant, dédié à l’écrivain par son ami José Hayot à l’Habitation Saint Etienne (HSE). Nous avons aussi été interviewés par Rodolf Etienne pour la page culturelle de France-Antilles, le quotidien le plus important de l’île. C’étaient des rencontres intéressants, avec des personnes généreuses, soit sur le plan humain que sur le plan intellectuel, et qui nous ont beaucoup appris sur la littérature, l’art et la culture martiniquaises et créoles.

Espace "Les Foudres Édouard Glissant" à HSE

Espace “Les Foudres Édouard Glissant” à HSE

Un moment particulièrement émouvant a été pour moi la visite de la tombe de Glissant, réalisée par Anicet lui-même au cimetière du Diamant : il s’agit d’un lieu chargé d’une énergie formidable, coincé entre les maisons du petit village et une de plus belles plages de monde, balayée de vents et de houles très puissants, dont les quatre kilomètres de sable blanche et noire aboutissent au promontoire de la « femme couchée » et à l’îlot volcanique du Diamant. Pas loin de la tombe de Glissant, il y a d’un coté sa maison, où j’avais déjà été avec lui en 2009 lors du Prix Carbet, et de l’autre côté, juste au-dessous du Morne Larcher, l’étonnant monument du Cap 110, dédié aux esclaves morts ensuite au naufrage d’un bateau négrier dans cette baie. J’espère que mes images pourront mieux raconter ce formidable voyage, sur lequel je reviendrai avec plus de détails dans les prochains jours …

Monument du Cap 110 - Anse Cafard

Monument du Cap 110 – Anse Cafard

La tombe d’Édouard Glissant, réalisée par Victor Anicet au Diamant

La tombe d’Édouard Glissant, réalisée par Victor Anicet au Diamant

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.

University of Birmingham Arts and Science Festival

Next week (Monday 18th – Sunday 24th of March 2013), the annual Arts and Science Festival will take place at the University of Birmingham. It’s a really exciting opportunity for dissemination of research and other outreach activities that intend to reach a larger public of non-experts. And it’s a good opportunity for me, too, to discover what is going on in other Departments of the University, to meet other researchers and colleagues and discuss about our projects, ideas etc. Inside the festival, Dr Louise Hardwick will present a very beautiful film by the Haitian writer Dany Laferrière, “The Sweet Drifting of a Child of Petit-Goâve” (2010), that “follows the journey of globetrotting author Dany Laferrière as he visits Montreal, Paris, New York and Haiti. An essential insight into the life of a contemporary author, this is also a film about travel, exile, Haiti, Canada, compassion and a love of literature”. The event will take place on Monday 18th March 2013 (16.00 – 18.15) in the Muirhead Tower G15 (R1 on map). Come and join us!

La dérive douce d’un enfant de Petit-Goâve, Film Poster. Image courtesy Pedro Ruiz

La dérive douce d’un enfant de Petit-Goâve, Film Poster. Image courtesy Pedro Ruiz