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Join us for the next in our fascinating seminar series:
What happens when we incorporate the non-human material world into academic conversations? As part of the Object Library's ongoing inquiry into routes to knowledge beyond traditional methods and existing discourses, this series of seminars co-presented with Henri Peyre French Institute invites the public to join us in study once again, taking material culture as our point of departure. With topics ranging across new areas of research, each presenter is encouraged to bring-a-thing-along or propose an object that might sit in creative tension with the seminar discussion. All are welcome, but a commitment to attend is necessary, as is reading in advance any materials supplied.
The final event, held in the Object Library, will lodge seminar-related objects—both suggested by seminar attendees in response to our conversations or brought along to the final session—into our temporary installation, 365 Things.
The Henri Peyre French Institute is proud to organize this seminar series in conjunction with the Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY and its Object Library project. The Henri Peyre French Institute is dedicated to promoting a broad, transdisciplinary, and transnational understanding of major cultural issues across French and Francophone studies through public programs concerning the arts, history, society and politics. This current seminar series seeks to showcase work in these areas that breaks boundaries, asks new questions, and alters current paradigms.


Stephanie Grace Petinos
The Living Relic and the Disabled Body

Wednesday, May 8th 2019
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM EDT
Room 9206

Please RSVP here

A body becomes a relic when a holy person, typically a saint, dies. In addition, the objects with which the holy person has had contact become relics by association. These relics are objects of devotion and of healing, sacred commodities that circulate and/or attract pilgrims. The power of relics is derived from the divine that flows within the objects and from the ability of these objects to channel and harness that divinity. If relics are marked by having been directly touched by God, then, a body touched by God before death becomes a living relic. The living relics in medieval sources take many forms, including men, women, and animals; and, in many cases, the resulting living relic restores a fractured or severed body, re-enabling a disabled body. These once-disabled bodies do not simply return to being their pre-disabled bodies, but, rather, are relicized, objectified, becoming a sort of divine cyborg with the potential for patriarchal, ecclesiastical, and familial subversion.           

About the Speaker:

Stephanie Grace-Petinos is a Lecturer of French at Western Carolina University. Her areas of specialization include medieval French literature, medieval spirituality, materiality, and disability studies. She is working on her first monograph, which focuses on re-attached/ re-enabled bodies in medieval literature, hagiography, and visual culture, tentatively titled Divine Cyborgs and the Logic of the Living Relic. Her published articles include “Woman as Victim and Vehicle of Redemption in the Search for Holiness: Marie de France’s Fresne” in the online medieval journal Hortulus; “Renunciation as Point of Departure in Marie de France’s Eliduc” in Anamesa;the chapter “Happiness via Spiritual Transcendence in a Selection of Old French Texts” in Regimes of Happiness: Comparative and Historical StudiesAnthem Press; as well as the forthcoming articles “Precarious Bodies in the Old French Ami et Amile” in Digital Philology: A Journal of Medieval Cultures: Medieval Vulnerabilities, and “The Ecology of Relics in Philippe de Remi’s Le Roman de la Manekine” in Medieval Ecocriticisms. She received her PhD in French with a certificate in Medieval Studies from The Graduate Center in 2016. 


Jasmine Claude-Narcisse   

On the Black Body as Traded Object


Friday, May 10th, 2019

5 pm -8.30 pm

 The Object Library, followed by a special event.

Please RSVP here.

Invented, serialized, othered, anthropologized, weighed, folklorized, fragmented, beautified, fantasized, scattered, uniformized, Negritude-ized … such is the black body/object as it appears through the merciless media inventory conducted by Jean-Claude Charles in “Le corps noir” (1980). Charles’s analysis conjures a double object: a Black being and a being Black in a permanent state of construction and irremediable deconstruction, as this book gives little or no quarter in its desperate search. The text itself is also an object-text, at once undefined and tortured, in which an incisive poetics and multiple illustrations of and references to the most unexpected of “objects” bear witness to the blinding effects of encounters between Charles’s own body and a “Black body.”  This text is also a project: to convey the malaise and disequilibrium generated by Charles’s rejection and refusal of the essentializing or objetisation of this (his) dehumanized black body that is being exchanged and traded at will.

Fleeing the Duvalier regime, Jean-Claude Charles (1949-2008) established himself in Paris in the 1970s after wandering through Mexico and the United States (Chicago and New York). A screenwriter, director, journalist, radio producer, and a poet praised by Marguerite Duras as “without doubt a true, great novelist,” he described himself as an “homme de nulle part,” a man from nowhere, and coined the concept of enracinerrance.

About the Speaker:

  Jasmine Claude-Narcisse is a member of the Henri Peyre French Institute Board of Directors. She completed a doctorate in French at the Graduate Center, CUNY (2018) with a thesis entitled “Rhétorique du soi dans la littérature haïtienne francophone du XXe siècle: Manques et Manquements?” Her research encompasses the rhetoric of the self in French and Francophone literature, Francophone Caribbean autobiography, and recalibrating the contours of Francophone literature. Among her publications, Mémoire de Femmes (1997), in collaboration with Pierre-Richard Narcisse, an account of interviews, research and oral histories of and on Haitian women in history, remains a work of reference in the field. For over twelve years, she led the Haitian Book Centre and the annual Haitian Book Day in New York. She has spearheaded the Henri Peyre French Institute’s continuous programming on Haiti, including the Haiti Rencontres series in 2012, curating its three-day conference Impunity, Responsibility and Citizenship – HAITI, in March 2016. As a professional educator in the field of second-language acquisition and French/Francophone literatures, she was a full-time visiting instructor at CUNY’s York College and Queensborough Community College and has taught at multiple campuses of CUNY, developing the Creole Language Program at York. She now works in secondary education.

Raphaël Liogier
The New Challenge of Apprehending Global Identities

Fri, Mar 22, 2019, 05:00 PM – 07:00 PM
Room 9207

The Internet is an object that is in one way non-human (even being the very ground in which so-called Artificial Intelligence grows) but is also filled with human narratives, and that is in another way empty but also filled with an in-finite amount of information (images, desires, discourses, etc.). Facing globalization in today’s digital age, advanced industrial societies seem to be put in jeopardy by an identity crisis fueled by individual and community-based frustrations, which seems to be related to the following paradox: human beings have never been so look-alike on a global scale—sharing for instance the same aspiration to modern comfort—but they have never been so different on a local scale, even within the scope of a single neighborhood, partly because global micro-global-communities based on Internet social networks (from manga enthusiasts to LGBTQ activists to neo-Salafists) create territory-less identities (that we could call Global Identities), interfering with traditional territory-based identities (family, ethnicity or nation). It is urgent to study them and the complex interactions between traditionally based and territory-less identities. And for that aim, it is therefore necessary to construct and implement a new social sciences discipline in its own right that can be named Global Identity Studies.
Please RSVP Here

Frédéric Baitinger, 
 Thou Shalt Enjoy Thy Object As Thyself 
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 05:00 PM – 07:00 PM
Room 9207

This is our new metaphysics, our new religious commandment: thou shalt enjoy thy object as thyself. As in the famous poem by Baudelaire The Pipe, we are no longer consumers, but we are literally consumed by our objects. They have become our primary source of enjoyment, not to say of addiction. We are completely riveted to our phone, to our computer, to our Facebook account, our Instagram account, our Seamless account, our Spotify account, etc. In a sense, one could even say that our relationships to objects are about to replace the relationships we had before to others, not to say to our significant other. For each one of our needs, there always exists an object, an app, or a delivery service that will satisfy it. It is thus as if each one of us could live, and be entirely satisfied, while being only connected to objects, and not, as it was the case before, to real people. This is why the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan suggested, as early as in the mid 70s, that what lurks underneath this omnipresence of the object is, actually, the “absence of sexual relationship between the sexes.” And this absence of sexual relationship between the sexes is itself grounded on an ultimate object—called object a—which encapsulates each one of us in its own perverse fantasy.
Nathalie Etoke
Object to Subject: Afro Diasporic French Identities
Fri, May 3, 2019, 05:00 PM – 07:00 PM ...
French Student Lounge (Room 4202)
The next seminar in the exciting series:
Please RSVP, see below for link for free tickets:
This event is free and open to the public

How do black individuals address the conundrums of inclusion and exclusion, acceptance and rejection in France? How do they navigate a racialized space that denies the existence of race? What are their thoughts on French national identity? What do they think about the portrayal of black people in the media? What is their relationship to Africa, to the memory of colonization and slavery? How do they deal with racism? Self-examination is the core component of Afro Diasporic French Identities, a documentary that I directed in 2011. By definition, race and racism set up a hierarchy of power through which human beings are objectified and oppressed based on the color of their skin. In the context of this seminar, I will look at the ways in which documentary can be used as an object that renders black subjectivities visible while questioning the universalist French narrative of citizenship. Outside of discourses on immigration, integration, religion or juvenile delinquency, the black experience does not exist in the French imagination. Despite having French citizenship, the individual whose physical features connect her to far-off lands is objectified with the following adjectives: “foreigner”, “immigrant”, and “black/noir (e)”. Through a series of interviews grounded on reflexive jazz esthetics that blend music, multiple voices, dance, spoken word and performance, Afro French Diasporic Identitiesaddresses the racializing of citizenship and the hermeneutics of the lived experience of black people in France. The documentary operates as a theoretical object that creates a space where I investigate the specificities, challenges, and contradictions that race and citizenship represent at this juncture in French society.

About the Speaker:

Nathalie Etoke is an Associate Professor of Francophone and Africana Studies at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She specializes in literature and cinema of Francophone sub-Saharan Africa, black French studies, queer studies in Africa and the Caribbean, and Africana existential thought. Her research examines the ongoing struggles for social justice and freedom for people of African descent around the world, accounting for the consequences of racial slavery, colonialism, and sexual violence in the longue durée of imperialism since 1492. Her articles have appeared in Research in African Literatures, French Politics and Culture, Nouvelles Études Francophones, Présence Francophone, the International Journal of Francophone Studies and the Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy. She is the author of L’Écriture du corps féminin dans la littérature de l’Afrique francophone au sud du Sahara and Melancholia Africana l’indispensable dépassement de la condition noire (2010), which won the 2012 Franz Fanon Prize from the Caribbean Philosophical Association. In 2011, she directed Afro Diasporic French Identities, a documentary on race, identity and citizenship in contemporary France.


The Object Seminar: Breaking Boundaries series is co-organized and sponsored by the Henri Peyre French Institute, and The Object Library from the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY.


Édouard Glissant at the Graduate Center:

Édouard Glissant's Tout-Monde: Transnational Perspectives
Fri, Nov 16, 2018, 12:45 PM – 7:00 PM
Elebash Recital Hall & The James Gallery
Image Credit: Photograph from the private collection of Olivier Glissant.
About the symposium:
The year 2018 marks what would have been the 90th birthday of Édouard Glissant (1928-2011), the eminent thinker of Relation and the All-World (Tout-Monde) who taught for sixteen years at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. Since Glissant's passing, the influence of his thought continues to grow as his works are now taught not only in Europe and the Americas but also in India and China.
CUNY celebrates the transnational reach of Édouard Glissant's ideas and the continued sustenance they provide to activists, artists, scholars and writers world-wide. It underlines his call for all people to abrogate the walls, real or imaginary, that separate them for all communities to achieve equality and solidarity and embrace the "Poetics of Relation."  
Édouard Glissant’s humanist project influenced and engaged colleagues and students alike during his years as Distinguished Professor of French at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (1995 to 2011), a city in which diverse ethnic and religious groups share a space that allows “Relation” to thrive, be reformulated and constantly rediscovered. The symposium includes academics whom Glissant mentored as well as those who have been inspired by reading him and have applied his thought to their own work and in teaching their own students.

The symposium brings to the fore scholars and artists who apply Édouard Glissant's theories to shed light on inter-communal relations, expose the power dynamics of the privileged versus the marginalized, advocate against boundaries while acknowledging difference, contest dominant hierarchies of race, ethnicity, and gender, and show how texts normalize some groups and make others “other.” The symposium celebrates the many perspectives of the Tout-Monde and brings the “periphery” back to the center of discourse, mindful of the powerful Glissant-inspired motto “Les Périphériques vous parlent!” (The Periphery is speaking to you!).

Presenters and speakers include:
Mary Ann Caws
Mohit Chandna
Nathalie Etoke
Paul Fadoul
Emmanuel Bruno Jean-François
Jarrod Hayes
Sylvie Kandé
Cilas Kemedjio
Francesca Canadé Sautman
Barbara Webb
Christopher Winks
Pedro Zylbersztajn

We will end the day-long symposium "Édouard Glissant's Tout-Monde: Transnational Perspectives" in The James Gallery with a reading by Mary Ann Caws in both French and English from her own translation of Édouard Glissant's epic poem Le Sel Noir, followed by a reception.
This symposium is organized by the Center for the Humanities, the Henri Peyre French Institute, and  Americas Society, and is co-sponsored by Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC), the Ph.D. Program in French at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC)

This symposium coincides with the exhibition Lydia Cabrera and Édouard Glissant: Trembling Thinking at the Americas Society.
For more about Édouard Glissant Programming

Image Credit: Photograph from the private collection of Olivier Glissant.


Édouard Glissant: Seminar Series
This November at the Graduate Center, CUNY, the Henri Peyre French Institute, the PhD Program in  French, and the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY invite you to attend a series of seminars honoring the legacy of Édouard Glissant, who taught here from 1995 to 2011.


Each of the informal seminars—held in the French Department thesis room where Glissant taught––will be led by one of his former students on a topic of their choosing, ranging from their personal experience with Glissant to the themes in his work and its ongoing influence across disciplines. Offering an intimate at-one-remove experience, these one-hour seminars will be open to 10–15 participants. To attend, participants must RSVP on Eventbrite (see links to RSVP below).
Click here for more information about the seminar series, the leaders, and to RSVP.

  • Weds, October 24, 2-3pm: Paul Fadoul, Lecturer in French, Queens College, CUNY [FULLY BOOKED]


These seminars are in tandem with the exhibition Lydia Cabrera and Édouard Glissant: Trembling Thinking at the Americas Society (Oct. 9, 2018–Jan. 12, 2019), and the symposium "Édouard Glissant's Tout-Monde: Transnational Perspectives" at the Graduate Center, CUNY (Fri, Nov 16, 2018, 12:45 PM – 7:00 PM).

Co-sponsored by the Henri Peyre French Institute, the PhD Program in French, and the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY. 
Édouard Glissant: One World in Relation

Screening & Conversation
Tue, Nov 6, 2018, 6:30 PM – 08:30 PM
Manthia Diawara’s film Édouard Glissant: One World in Relation (2009, 48 min) follows Édouard Glissant, thinker of Relation and the All-World, on a transatlantic journey as he discusses his philosophies of creolization, relation, and history. Following the screening will be a discussion with the director and artist Asad Raza, co-curator of the exhibition Lydia Cabrera and Édouard Glissant: Trembling Thinking at the Americas Society (October 9, 2018 to January 12, 2019).

This screening is in tandem with the exhibition Lydia Cabrera and Édouard Glissant: Trembling Thinking at the Americas Society (Oct. 9, 2018–Jan. 12, 2019), and the symposium "Édouard Glissant's Tout-Monde: Transnational Perspectives" at the Graduate Center, CUNY (Fri, Nov 16, 2018, 12:45 PM – 7:00 PM).

                        Co-sponsored by the Americas Society, New York.


Rivereuse, Water, Gender and Resource in Early Modern France.
Friday September 21st, 2018
5.00 pm. French Lounge 4202

Speaker: Katherine Ibbett

This talk explores the relationship between a figurative language about rivers and a new science of hydrology in early modern France and the French Americas. How did the residents of riverbanks - from nymphs to washerwomen - navigate the significance of the river and its multiple resources?

Katherine Ibbett is Professor of French at the University of Oxford, and Caroline de Jager Fellow in French at Trinity College, Oxford; she has previously taught at University College London and the University of Michigan. She is the author of Compassion’s Edge: Fellow-Feeling and its Limits in Early Modern France (Penn, 2017) and The Style of the State in French Theater (Ashgate, 2009), and the co-editor of Walter Benjamin’s Hypothetical French Trauerspiel (Yale French Studies 2013). She is currently working on a book entitled Liquid Empire, about the writing of water in France and the Americas.

Co-Sponsors: French, Renaissance, Studies,Women's Studies, History and Comparative Literature