Stéphanie Bérard / French

As a professor of French and Francophone literature and culture, it is quite common to favor an interdisciplinary approach, linking literature to other fields such as history, sociology, politics, or the arts. To situate one literary text in its historical and sociological context helps students to understand the conditions of its production; drawing connections between writers and other artists allows them to be aware of the interaction and interdependence of artistic movements (Baroque, Classicism, Romanticism not only refer to literature but also to music and painting).

Next Fall, I will be teaching an undergraduate course on French Literature from the 19th and 20th centuries and I have chosen to connect the study of poetry, novel, and theater to other arts, that is to say to contextualize literature in its larger artistic landscape and to draw relationships between artists. For example, we will study Baudelaire’s poetry in connection with Debussy’s music,  Apollinaire’s writing with cubist painters, Duras and her collaboration with the New Wave filmmaker Resnais.

One part of the course will be devoted to the link between literature and visual arts. I plan on taking students to Washington National Gallery of Artwhich has an impressive collection of French painting, especially of Impressionism. I remember the amazing experience of going to Paris with my art teacher when I was 16 to visit Orsay, the Louvre and the Picasso museum. This one day trip to Washington DC will start with a guided tour of the museum in the morning followed by a more personal and subjective journey around the museum in the afternoon asking students to choose one specific French piece of art that strikes them and link it to one text studied in class; they will be asked to take a picture of the painting or sculpture (I have checked that photography is permitted). We’ll have lunch in town all together to share our thoughts, feelings and reactions. This art day spent in Washington will then be used in class when Marc Lemyre, a Francophone photographer, poet, playwright and musician will come to class at the end of the semester (November30th-December 5th) to initiate students to the art of photography in connection with literary production. Marc Lemyre, born in Quebec and now living in Toronto, is not only a French native speaker from Canada (a good opportunity for students to be aware of the diversity of the Francophone world) but he is also a interdisciplinary artist whose skills will be very valuable for students to link the study of a literary text with images. As a Francophone poet and musician, he is sensitive to the creative writing; as a photographer, he will introduce students to visual techniques. They will be asked to associate either a quotation from a text, or an author, or even space, time and characters from books studied in class, to pictures they have taken in the museum orfrom their own world and daily life (on grounds at UVA, in their family, among friends). Lemyre and I will organize technical workshops will be organized outside of class for students to learn how to lay out in a montage (and use the software Prowshow). The whole class will then meet at the end of the week in an unknown space (not the classroom… it may be my house) to screen their visual literary montage like a show they will attend and freely react to (asking questions, exchanging, discussing). I aim at developing the freedom of spirit and the creativity of mind of my students, outside of disciplinary boundaries, inviting them to use their sensitivity, to express their feelings, and share their sensations by connecting literature to the world, words to images. Freedom of creativity is often neglected in academia and I have myself a tendency to work at developing the intellectual skills of my students, diminishing the creative and artistic capacity that everyone naturally possesses.


$300 Trip to Washington National Art Gallery:Van rental or bus (x2) gas Lunch in Washington

$250 Travel Marc Lemyre (Canadian photographer and poet) Flight (from Toronto to Charlottesville)

$500 Honorarium (workshops + technical help)

$648 Software Pro show

$500 Students reception at my house (20 students)

$107 Rental video projector and screen