The month will also bring conversations on historical scholarship, and a new book club selection.

In February, NYU’s La Maison Française hosts a special lecture about philosophy and anarchy (February 10); a conference that explores the intertextuality at work in historical fiction (February 21); an investigation into new methods of historical scholarship that draw on literary and journalistic methods (February 26); and much more.  

All events are held at La Maison Française, located at 16 Washington Mews (between University Place and Fifth Avenue), and are free, open to the public, and in English, unless otherwise noted. Seating for free events is on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call 212.998.8750 or visit [Subways: R, W (8th Street); 6 (Astor Place); A, B, C, D, E, F, M (West 4th Street).]

Wednesday, February 5, 6:30 p.m.
African Catholic: Deconolization and the Transformation of the Church
African Catholic (Harvard University Press, 2019) by Elizabeth A. Foster examines how French imperialists and the Africans they ruled imagined the religious future of French sub-Saharan Africa in the years just before and after decolonization. The story encompasses the political transition to independence, Catholic contributions to black intellectual currents, and efforts to alter the church hierarchy to create an authentically “African” church. Foster recreates a Franco-African world forged by conquest, colonization, missions, and conversions—one that still exists today. Institute of French Studies Book Event.

Elizabeth A. Foster is an associate professor of history at Tufts University, as well as the author of Faith in Empire: Religion, Politics, and Colonial Rule in French Senegal, 1880–1940.

Monday, February 10, 7:00 p.m.
Philosophy and Anarchy: Anatomy of a Disavowal

In this Department of French Literature, Thought, and Culture Lecture, Catherine Malabou examines the divide between French philosophy and politics when parsing the issue of anarchy. “Different, sometimes contradictory, signs are making manifest the necessity of a new interrogation on anarchy in the current global political situation, far beyond the idea of a violent strategy against the State,” Malabou says. “How are we to understand and interpret those signs?"

Catherine Malabou is a visiting professor at NYU; professor of philosophy at Kingston University’s Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy; professor of comparative literature at University of California Irvine; and the author of Morphing Intelligence: From IQ to IA; and Before Tomorrow: Epigenesis and Rationality.

Wednesday, February 12, 6:00 p.m. & Thursday, February 13, 7:00p.m.
Europa’s Opera: Three Acts

Europa’s Opera: Three Acts
 is a collaboration among NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, Deutsches Haus at NYU, and La Maison Française of NYU, and will showcase productions by three of New York City’s most innovative opera companies throughout spring 2020.

Europa’s Opera: Three Acts draws upon the rich history of the musical form by presenting three semi-staged productions by Philip Shneidman’s The Little Opera Theatre of New York, Dorian Bandy, and Judith Barnes’ Vertical Player Repertory. These performances—and an in-depth moderated conversation among the producers—aim to demonstrate the power of art and music to transcend national borders, and to act as a binding force, uniting people in a shared experience and common cause.

Seating is limited, and separate reservations required for each event. See more details below.

Wednesday, February 12, 6:00 p.m.
Panel discussion with the producers. Moderated by Harvey Sachs.
Location: Deutsches Haus at NYU (42 Washington Mews)
RSVP required:

Thursday, February 13, 7:00 p.m.
Abbandonata e condotta a morire: Handel in Italy

Under the direction of Dorian Bandy
Location: Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò (24 West 12th Street)
RSVP required:

Friday, February 21, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Multilayered History: Intertextuality in 19th-Century French Historical Fiction / L’Histoire feuilletée, dispositifs intertextuels dans la fiction historique du XIXe siècle

This conference exames intertextuality at work within historical fiction, and is organized by Claudie Bernard, NYU, and Corinne Saminadayar-Perrin, Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier.

All historical fiction constitutes a multilayered volume, an intrinsically intertextual structure. In addition, like all fiction, historical fiction summons a vast literary intertext. And it engages inter-discursive phenomena, which recycle a pervasive doxa, stereotypes, school clichés, and journalistic formulae.

In all these instances, we will examine how the intertext is integrated into the text. We will ask whether the author recognizes or denies his/her borrowings, how they affect the mimetic illusion, and the relationship with the reader. We will analyze examples of reinterpretation, pastiche, and parody, in a century which valorizes, yet often ridicules, erudition.

Intertextuality at work within historical fiction engages an aesthetic, epistemological, and ideological debate. It challenges the historiographical paradigms, and questions the capacity of historiography to make sense, as well as the production of meaning in fiction.

Session I:  9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Session II:  2:00 – 5:30 p.m.

Conference in French and in English.

Sponsored by NYU Provost’s Faculty Research Initiatives Program and Department of French Literature, Thought, and Culture.

This is the first part of an international colloquium, the second part of which will take place at Université Paul Valéry in Montpellier on November 12 and 13, 2020.

Wednesday, February 26, 6:30 p.m,
Narrating the Past: Innovative Strategies for Writing History

Why should historians consider developing new forms of historical writing, and of what might those forms consist? This discussion of craft will explore how historians can draw on literary and journalistic methods to construct and convey knowledge. Using brief sample texts, historian and writer Ivan Jablonka and journalist Brooke Kroeger will demonstrate the practical application of specific strategies.

Ivan Jablonka, professor of contemporary history at Université Paris-XIII-Nord and visiting professor at NYU, is the author of Histoire des grands-parents que je n’ai pas eus; Laëtitia ou La fin des hommes (Prix Médicis);  L’histoire est une littérature contemporaine. Manifeste pour les sciences sociales; Des hommes justes. Du patriarcat aux nouvelles masculinités.

Brooke Kroeger is a professor of journalism and director of the Global and Joint Program Studies at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She is also the author of The Suffragettes: How Women Used Men to Get the Vote; Fannie: The Talent for Success of Writer Fannie Hurst; and Undercover Reporting: The Truth About Deception.

Hilary Handin is a doctoral candidate of history and French studies at NYU.

Institute of French Studies Roundtable

Friday, February 28, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
The Mews French Book Club

French writer Catherine Cusset leads a French book club, exploring new tendencies in French and Francophone literature in a relaxed setting. Discussion is in French. The February book to be discussed is Ladivine by Marie NDiaye.  

Purchase and read the book in advance. Books available at Albertine Books (972 Fifth Avenue, Register for the next meeting at Eventbrite.

Editor’s Note
For over six decades, La Maison Française of New York University has served as a major forum for French-American cultural and intellectual exchange, offering contemporary perspectives on myriad French and Francophone issues. Its rich program of lectures, symposia, concerts, screenings, exhibitions, and special events provides an invaluable resource to the university community, as well as the general public. For more, please visit

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