Digital Humanities | Humanités Numériques


Project Overview

Francophone Digital Humanities is a research and teaching initiative conceived by a group of Duke critics. It creates a new ensemble of digital surrogates in response to the need for sources available in French. The form is open access, to ensure a wide public, and the materials are combined to outline Francophone culture in an unprecedented and inventive way.

The Francophone DH map of resources is remarkably broad; from collections in the French-speaking Americas to Europe; from Durham, North Carolina to Turin, Italy; Port-au- Prince, Haiti to Paris, France. It extends to smaller, key archives where the handwritten, printed, and audiovisual resources are also found.

The FDH timeline is equally expansive: contemporary to pre-modern times, the two World Wars to the Enlightenment, the 1960s to the post-war period. It encompasses major occasions of creative activity in modern, pre-modern and contemporary culture as we think with them today.

Our Aims

• To enrich and diversify open-access digital resources in French

• To curate a heterogeneous ensemble of materials: history of criticism, ethnology and psychiatry, literary manuscripts, poetry and translation, film

• To advance experimentation with digital media, methods and materials

• To engage researchers other audiences in debates in the Humanities & Social Sciences

Our Collaborators

• David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

• Bibliothèque de France, Paris

• Université de Lille – 3

• Archivio di Stato, Torino, Italia

• Cinémathèque Française // Université de Paris VII-Diderot

• Faculté d’ethnologie, Université d’état, Haïti


Timeline of FDH Projects

  • 1401...1474...1792...1905

    Making Medieval Poetry

    Manuscripts now available in digital form lay the ground for this project exploring the pre-modern poetry book through its many, long lives. Here, for the first time, an ensemble of major and minor French poetry, compiled during the late fourteenth century, and put together again 400 years later. Also accessible here another similar chapbook gathering poems of François Villon, Guillaume de Machaut, Alain Chartier, Christine de Pizan. With our partners, Turin State Archives, & Royal Library of Sweden, we contribute the two digital surrogates to advance research on the medieval anthology and its cultural memory. Seminars, at Duke University and the University of Virginia, pursue this collective effort that began with seminars in 2015 and a workshop in June 2016.

  • To attempt to understand the deep relationship existing between the Arab-Muslim world and France, it is important to put together a repertory of materials that was first collected by French archivists and extends all the way back to the fifteenth century. This project begins to reassemble this remarkable early modern Arabic library in digital form. It offers a precise idea of what French scholars knew of the Arab world – a knowledge much deeper than we tend to assume. Digital access to this repertory enables us to enter their library.

  • Using the Duke Library electronic catalog record of the Gustave Lanson Collection, the project will identify autographed copies of works sent to Lanson when they were published. Available biographical sources will be used to explore professional intersections among the authors/editors identified as senders of autographed works and Lanson himself. Visualizations of intellectual networks analyzed will be available to the broad public in appropriate online formats.

  • Louis Mars (1905-2000), son of the Haitian founder of Ethnology, Jean Price-Mars, was a pioneer in "Ethnopsychiatry" (globally comparative mental health theorization & systems). This digital library of French-language Haitian "ethnopsychiatric" texts by Mars & his cohort supports renewed partnerships of ethnological engagement with theories of mental health in Haiti, and with a return to afro-diasporic sources in global mental health research and initiatives.

  • Our objective is two-fold: philological/textual and exegetical. We plan to produce digitized editions of: (1) Aimé Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal and 2) the selection of short poems in the volume: Non-Vicious Circle: Twenty Poems of Aimé Césaire (Stanford University Press, 1984). “Variorum” editions of these works that will register all the changes that Césaire made to the texts in successive published versions as well as handwritten unpublished mss. Our editions will include English translations and scholarly annotations. We will commence with the publication of Non-Vicious Circle.

  • The Resnais Archipelago offers the first wide-range exploration on the cinema and photographic works of French film director Alain Resnais (1922-2014). As a collaborative project with Paris VII and the Cinémathèque Française, it engages a broad theoretical and practical reflection on the nature of filmic and photographic archives and the impact of digitization. The Resnais Archipelago encompasses a series of pedagogical, curatorial, and scholarly outcomes, including virtual exhibitions of students’ works, a video-link workshop, and an international conference.


Beginning in 2015-16, FDH members are giving graduate seminars that use digital materials made available through their project.

Spring 2016 seminars will be posted during the fall pre-registration period.

Our framework:

The Rupert Commons for Research, Technology, and Collaboration at the Bostock Library, where students test their research questions and develop their work.

Fall 2015: FR/HST/LIT 715, Cultural Memory, Prof. Helen Solterer in collaboration with FR 5100, Poetry in Motion, Prof. Deborah McGrady at the University of Virginia


Making Medieval Poetry

Helen Solterer:
Deborah McGrady, University of Virginia:

Haitian Ethnopsychiatry

Deborah Jenson:

Gustave Lanson's Intellectual Networks

David Bell:
Heidi Madden:

Césaire and the Digital Cahier

Gregson Davis:
Marina Magloire:

The Resnais Archipelago

Anne-Gaëlle Saliot:
Jacqueline Waeber:

An Early Arabic Library

Emilie Picherot:
Université de Lille 3

General Information

The Center for French and Francophone Studies, Duke University:
Design: Beatrice Wallace &
Kyle Wilkinson,