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Solitudes/ Multitudes: 18th – 21st Centuries
October 14 - October 15
This international, interdisciplinary, bilingual symposium is designed to consider solitude(s) and multitude(s) in tandem, as both historical constructs and present-day issues. Taking the global Francophone context as a point of departure, we aim to extend the treatment of solitudes/multitudes in time and space to include other cultures, languages, and periods. For more information, contact Anne Vila, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although sometimes set in opposition, the modern conditions of solitude and multitude have common origins in Enlightenment-era theorizing about human nature and the self in relation to society. The eighteenth century was marked by a deep tension between solitude and sociability, inwardness versus outward engagement. That tension found expression in multiple areas, from the novel and life-writing to the nascent fields of psychology, educational science, socio-political theory, and “mental” medicine. The conceptual couple formed by solitude/multitude would go on to underpin later developments like thinking about crowds and their “influence-ability,” the rival conceptions of the writer/thinker as public intellectual vs. solitary genius, perceptions of cities and certain other spaces as lonely and isolating, and the contemporary phenomenon of “group think” (along with the conditions that fuel it, like social media).
This symposium is designed to consider solitude(s) and multitude(s) in tandem, as both historical constructs and present-day issues. Taking the global Francophone context as a point of departure, we aim to extend the treatment of solitudes/multitudes in time and space to include other cultures, languages, and periods.
Symposium Schedule – Full View Below
Friday October 14
8:45 am: Coffee and refreshments
9:15 am-9:30 am: Welcome & Opening remarks
- Sue Zaeske, Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities, College of Letters & Science; Professor of Rhetoric and Public Culture, Department of Communication Arts
- Graziella Menechella, Chair of French and Italian, Associate Professor of Italian
- Anne Vila, Professor of French, Senior Fellow at Institute for Research in the Humanities
9:30 am-11:15 am: Panel 1. Solitude in 20th- and 21st-Century French & Francophone Literature. Moderator: Vlad Dima
- Joshua Armstrong (UW-Madison):”Two Solitudes: Houellebecq and Haenel”
- Louis Betty (UW-Whitewater), “Solitude and Sin: Michel Houellebecq’s Sérotonine and the Limits of the Therapeutic”
- Mark Lee (Mount Allison University), “Reading Mourning, Loneliness and Solitude in L’Étranger”
11:15 am: Coffee break
11:30 am-12:45 pm: Keynote lecture.
Daniel Desormeaux (Johns Hopkins University), “The Solitude of a Nation: Post-Revolutionary Haiti” [Zoom]. Moderator: Jérôme Camal
12:45 pm-2:00 pm: Lunch
2:00 pm-5:15 pm: Panel 2. Group Behavior: Models, Problems, Possibilities. Moderators: Giuliana Chamedes and Léonie Hénaut
2:00 pm-3:15 pm:
- Jim Coons (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater), “Passionate Frondeur, Intemperate Foreigner: Emotion, Community, and Politics in Civil War (1648-1653)”
- Anne Vila (UW-Madison): “From Solitaires to Agitated Crowd: the Many Faces of the 18th-Century French Jansenist Convulsionary Movement”
3:15 pm: Coffee break
3:30 pm-4:45 pm: Continuation of Panel 2.
- Rick Keller (UW-Madison), “Solitude within Multitudes: Isolation and Risk in the Modern City” Ivan Ermakoff (UW-Madison), “Critical Decisions and Collective Alignments”
6:00 pm: Dinner reception/ apéro dînatoire (French House, 633 N Frances St)
Saturday October 15
9:00 am: Coffee and refreshments
9:30 am-10:45 am: Keynote lecture.
Ziad Elmarsafy (King’s College London). “The Loneliest People in the World: Racism and Slavery in Contemporary Gulf Arabic Fiction” [Zoom]. Moderator: Nevine El-Nossery
10:45 am: Coffee break
11:00 am-12:45 pm: Panel 3: Poursuites solitaires/ collectives, du XIXe au XXIe siècle. Moderator: Daniel Desormeaux
- Ronan Chalmin (Auburn University): “Egalité et multitude: ‘Le Manifeste des plébéiens’ (1795) de Gracchus Babeuf”
- Florence Vatan (UW-Madison), “Solitudes/Multitudes : le modèle des insectes”
- Soraya Tlatli (University of California, Berkeley), “Psychanalyse et Islam : La notion de foule chez Freud et Fethi Benslama”
12:45 pm-2:00 pm: Lunch at French House (for speakers and moderators)
2:15 pm-3:30 pm: Panel 4: UW-Madison graduate student workshop. Moderator: Ritt Deitz
- Katie Terry, “Melancholy, Redemption, and Damnation: Solitary Siblings in François-René de Chateaubriand’s René“
- Roodmerlynn Pierre, “ ‘Ne suis-je pas une femme noire ?’ : Understanding Solitude and Black Womanhood in Claire de Duras’ Ourika“
- Peter Russella, “Iconostasis and Isolation: Solitudes and Multitudes in Emmanuel Lepage’s Ar-men : l’Enfer des enfers (2017)”
3:30 pm: Coffee break
3:45 pm-5:00 pm: Panel 5: Solitude, Multitudes, and the Making of Art. Moderator: Ernesto Livorni
- Malina Stefanovska (UCLA), “How to populate your solitude or the art of writing memoirs”
- Nevine El Nossery (UW-Madison), “From the Singularities to the Multitude in the Making of Revolutionary Art during the Arab Spring”
5:00 pm-5:20 pm: Synthesis, wrap-up discussion
6:30 pm: Cocktails followed by dinner at Steenbock on Orchard’s (330 N Orchard St, Madison; for speakers and moderators)