News & Forum

This section of our website includes News relevant to the Center for French & Francophone Studies, as well as Commentaries on events by Duke faculty, students, staff - and YOU! Your commentary, namely regarding the francophone world but also on Duke campus, or your wonderment about a new word or turn of phrase – all is welcome on our blog, in English or French. The format can be as short as a flash of wit, or as long as necessary to get an idea across. It’s your call. Send your post on French in all shapes and sizes to Thank you!

L’actualité, notamment dans le monde francophone, mais aussi vos commentaires sur la vie à Duke ou encore la découverte d’un mot ou d’une expression, tout est le bienvenu sur ce blog, en français ou en anglais. Le format peut être aussi court qu’un trait d’esprit ou aussi long qu’il le faut pour faire passer une idée. À vous d’en décider et de faire vivre le français dans tous ses états. Envoyez vos posts à Merci !

Recent News & Commentaries

Internationally renowned filmmaker Alice Diop visited Duke briefly on April 18. Alice Diop represented France for the 2023 Oscars, and was the recipient of the Grand Jury Prize in Venice and of the Louis Delluc Prize in France. Her acclaimed work is described by the film critic A.O. Scott as an "intellectually charged, emotionally wrenching story about the inability of storytelling - literary, legal or cinematic - to do justice to the violence and strangeness of human experience." - The New York Times Alice Diop is a… read more about A Conversation with filmmaker Alice Diop »

Tuesday, April 2nd   The CFFS, in partnership with Villa Albertine, welcomes Rama Salla Dieng.   The author will join us for Global South Feminist Solidarities and the Meaning of Anti-Colonial, a public talk that is part of the Contemporary Feminisms in French Lecture Series and organized in collaboration with the Global South Feminisms Seminar.… read more about Global South Feminist Solidarities and the Meaning of Anti- Colonial with Rama Salla Dieng »   The Center for French and Francophone Studies at Duke University, the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute and Villa Albertine  hosted the first Night of Ideas in Durham that was held at the Durham Main County Library on February 29 from 7p.m to 11p.m. Present in 100 countries worldwide, the Night of Ideas has become a… read more about The Night of Ideas - Durham Feb. 29 2024 »

This collective volume, co-edited by Helen Solterer and Vincent Joos, investigates Calais, notorious today as one choke point for so-called migrants.  It changes what we know of Calais by considering peoples rarely identified in this way: the nameless during the early modern Hundred Year’s War; and during World War One.  It places Calais side by side with other borderlands in Spain/Morocco and Lampedusa/Sicily/Somalia – all part of a new, comparative cultural history of migration that explores the significant… read more about Book Launch: Migrants Shaping Europe, Past and Present: Multilingual Literature, Arts, and Cultures »

A philosopher, economist, writer and musician, the Senegalese Felwine Sarr is one of the most prominent intellectual figures of the moment. In recent years, his work has taken on a new form: that of plays. Two of them are currently on tour in the United States, and carry this singular voice that invites us to believe in the possibility of utopia. On September 19, your plays Traces - Speach to African Nations and Freedom, I’ll Have Lived Your Dream until the Last Day began to… read more about Felwine Sarr: Reinvest History and Utopia »

 Felwine Sarr, Anne-Marie Bryan Distinguished Professor of Romance Studies at Duke, has been described in various biographies as a public intellectual, humanist, philosopher, economist, musician, playwright and poet. In 2021, he was named among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people for his work to restitute African and Asian artworks to their countries of origin. A native of Senegal, where he taught at the University of Gaston-Berger in Saint Louis, Senegal, Sarr has been at Duke since 2020. His face and his… read more about U.S. Tour of Works by Felwine Sarr Comes to Duke Performances »

Two Duke students from a Romance Studies class have helped elect the winner of France’s most prestigious literary prize, which expanded its reach to the United States for the first time ever this year. First awarded in 1903 by French writer Edmond de Goncourt’s literary society, now known as the Académie Goncourt, the prize is France’s version of the Pulitzer. It recognizes a work of “great imagination in prose” and has been awarded to internationally recognized authors such as Marcel Proust and Simone de… read more about Duke Students Help Select the Winner of France’s Most Prestigious Literary Prize »

Famed writer, Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, is the recipient of France's most prestigious literary award, the 2021 Prix Goncourt. He is the first sub-Saharan African author to do so while also being the youngest author to win in decades, being only 31. Mr. Sarr discussed his award-winning work, "La plus secrète mémoire des hommes," or "The Most Secret Memory of Men," co-published by Philippe Rey and Jimsaan. The story follows the quest of a young Senegalese author who discovers an acclaimed literary work called "The Labyrinth of… read more about Une conversation avec Mohamed Mbougar Sarr »

Le récit familial sur la transmission de la mémoire de la Shoah de la romancière française, au cœur d'une polémique dans le milieu littéraire parisien, a été sacré ce samedi à New York. Le récit sur l'Holocauste et sur les racines juives de l'écrivaine française Anne Berest, La Carte postale, au cœur d'une polémique dans le milieu littéraire parisien, a décroché samedi à New York le premier prix Goncourt version américaine. Le plus prestigieux des prix littéraires français s'est internationalisé avec… read more about La Carte postale d'Anne Berest décroche le Goncourt version américaine »

Felwine Sarr est un des intellectuels africains les plus actifs et les plus discutés sur la scène francophone et au-delà. Après des études d’économie en France, il enseigne cette discipline pendant treize ans à l’Université Gaston-Berger à Saint-Louis du Sénégal. Désormais, il est professeur de philosophie africaine à Duke University, aux Etats-Unis. En 2021, il est l’invité de la chaire de français de l’EPFZ. Afrotopia (Philippe Rey, 2016) est un best-seller mondial. Auteur de plusieurs essais, d’œuvres… read more about Felwine Sarr: «Dans l’imaginaire, la Suisse est une oasis, une enclave irréelle, une métaphore» »

Philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, renowned for his wide-ranging, challenging, and thoughtful writing on art, film, and politics, died August 23 at the age of eighty-one. Best known for his unfetteredly fresh takes on giants of thought, including Heidegger, Kant, and Sartre, he wrote extensively on art, taking as his subjects Simon Hantaï, Soun-Gui Kim, and On Kawara, the last of whom he especially admired for his works investigating death, time, and human existence. Nancy’s 2000 essay “L’intrus” (The Intruder), perhaps his most… read more about Jean-Luc Nancy (1940-2021) »

No matter what you’re studying, there’s no escaping the role of language. It’s just how humans communicate. Yet, there is a generation of students whose experience with language classes consists almost entirely of conversations about a single subject: travel. “Language used to be taught in a contextual vacuum,” explained Deb Reisinger, an associate professor of the practice of Romance Studies. “When adults think back on learning a language, they often recall memorized dialogues, role plays or skits where they dressed up as… read more about A Practical Way to Learn a Language, and a New Perspective »

In 2011, at the unveiling of a highway marker honoring Pauli Murray — the lawyer, priest, civil rights advocate, and Durham native — Helen Solterer began a literary journey through time and place. It was there that Solterer, a professor of Romance Studies, first learned of Murray’s poetry. Solterer was particularly struck by Murray’s 1944 poem “Dark Testament,” calling it Murray’s “freedom song” about “the curse of lynching in North Carolina.” It’s a stunning work of literature in its own right, and Solterer also heard a… read more about Duke Guggenheim Fellow Asks What Makes Literature Feel Timely »

Le succès des programmes bilingues français aux Etats-Unis Août 28th, 2019 par Clément Thiery Les programmes bilingues sont en plein essor aux Etats-Unis. Avec plus de cent soixante filières bilingues dans trente-quatre Etats, le français est aujourd’hui la deuxième langue étrangère la plus populaire du pays. A New York, une école publique sur dix propose un enseignement bilingue. Dans l’Utah, une école sur cinq est bilingue. Et l’Alaska a inauguré en août ses deux premières classes bilingues français-anglais. Ces… read more about Bilingual Teaching in American Schools: French comes in second »

Six visiting scholars representing liberal arts institutions, historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), and Durham Technical Community College will arrive at Duke this summer to collaborate with faculty as part of an innovative humanities initiative. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Humanities Unbounded is designed to nurture collaboration and inventive expressions of the humanities at Duke and beyond. Among other aims, it expands Duke's curriculum by launching research-based humanities labs that enrich… read more about Duke Welcomes NCCU, Durham Tech, Liberal Arts Collaborators to Humanities Unbounded initiative »

Josette Audin spent more than 60 years asking French leaders to admit responsibility for her husband's death in Algeria. Finally, last year, Emmanuel Macron acknowledged that he had been tortured and killed in custody. At the same time, he said the archives would be opened to researchers - was this an empty promise? Full Story Link:   read more about The widow who asked eight French presidents for the truth »

It is with profound sadness that we have learned of Pascale Casanova's passing at age 59 on September 29 in Paris. A highly innovative literary critic and a wonderful person, she had been a visiting professor in Romance Studies at Duke a few years ago. For more information, see Xavier de La Porte's remembrance: and her obituary in Le Monde by Gisèle Sapiro:  LE MONDE | 03.10.2018 La mort de… read more about In memoriam: Pascale Casanova »

After six decades of official silence, President Macron recognized on September 13 that a youthful antiwar intellectual, the mathematician Maurice Audin, was tortured to death in Algiers in 1957 — and that torture had been part of "a system" in Algeria under French control. In the nation's name and in person, he presented his apologies to the family. Maurice Audin's daughter, Michèle Audin, herself a mathematician but also a fiction writer, was the CFFS's guest on our campus last February… read more about France - Algeria: Macron admits Maurice Audin was tortured to death in 1957 »

The campus novel invented by English-speaking writers made a splash some years ago, with Duke providing more than the décor.  In Changing Places (1975), David Lodge creates Morris Zapp, a globe-trotting professor of literature resembling Stanley Fish who transformed the English Department during the 1980s-90s. Now it’s the turn of a writer in France, Agnès Desarthe, whose novel, La Chance de leur vie [Editions de l’Olivier] is just out.  The scene is Earl University, in… read more about A Novel Duke: Agnès Desarthe »

Bastille Day — July 14 — is a day to join the Department of Romance Studies in celebrating the good news of a Chair in French and Francophone Studies. The donor of this generous gift has named the Chair after one of her professors from the late eighties. Studying with Anne-Marie Bryan in French, she said, put her on a path that changed the course of her life. Who was this colleague? Anne-Marie Després Bryan, born in Burgundy, took her law degrees at the University of Dijon and the University of Paris (1941,1944), during… read more about A First Endowed Chair: Vive Anne-Marie Bryan! »

In November 2017, the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened on the island of Saadiyat in the United Arab Emirates. The museum is the product of an intergovernmental agreement between France and the UAE and as a result members of the Agence France-Muséums, representing not only the Louvre in Paris but many other French cultural centers that have pledged to lend resources for exhibitions in the coming years. The UAE reportedly paid four hundred million euros for the use of the Louvre’s name in addition to two hundred and twenty million… read more about Louvre Abu Dhabi: Part of a Partnership or a Business Transaction? »

“Combien de langues parle-t-on en Caroline du Nord ? Deux : l’anglais et le mauvais anglais ! “ Cette blague remonte aux années 1970, époque à laquelle seulement 2% des Nord-caroliniens de plus de 5 ans utilisaient, chez eux, une autre langue que l’anglais. Ce pourcentage est aujourd’hui de 11%, soit un peu plus d’un million de personnes. Parmi eux, combien de Francophones ? Environ 27,000, nous a appris en 2013 le Bureau du recensement : Ce tableau établi par le Centre pour la… read more about 27.000 Francophones en Caroline du Nord »

By the end of this year, the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) is due to release a new four-year assessment of the status of French – it should rather be a Plural: of French languages – in the world. Its last report, published in November 2014, was excessively self-congratulatory and optimistic. It hyped the “good news” that the number of Francophones in the world – about 275 million - had increased by 7 percent since 2010. But, for one, it remained unclear what level of proficiency these figures reflected… read more about The Francophone World, a Potemkin Village »