Professor Jean-Michel Gouvard

Contact details

Name:
Professor Jean-Michel Gouvard
Qualifications:
Agrégation de Lettres Modernes, PhD, HDR
Position/Fellowship type:
Associate Fellow
Fellowship term:
01-Jul-2020 to 30-Jun-2025
Institute:
Institute of Modern Languages Research
Home institution:
University of Bordeaux-Montaigne
Location:
Département de Lettres UFR Humanités Université Bordeaux-Montaigne ?Domaine Universitaire 33607 - PESSAC France
Email address:
jean-michel.gouvard@u-bordeaux-montaigne.fr
Website:
https://jmgouvard.wixsite.com/gouvard

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Language and Literature (French), Literatures in a modern language
Regions:
Europe
Summary of research interests and expertise:
My current research fields are centered on French Literature, from the Second Empire to the post-WWII decades. I work more specifically on Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Jules Verne, Marcel Proust, Paul Eluard, Samuel Beckett and Annie Ernaux, with a focus on the interactions of literary writing with history, society and culture. I have also a strong interest for Walter Benjamin’s thought and especially his analysis of modernity in the inter-war period.
Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
01-Apr-2020 Jouer Beckett/Performing Beckett

Edited Book

This special issue is a tribute to four study days held at the Université de Bordeaux Montaigne (France) and the Institute of Modern Languages Research (UK) in 2017.19 The study days brought together academics and theatre practitioners to consider the extent to which the reception of a playwright’s work is determined by the performance conditions in the country where such work is performed. The bilingual nature of this forum for research is reflected in the fact that this special issue includes contributions in French and English.

01-Mar-2020 Le poème en prose et l'art de la subversion : 'Le Spleen de Paris' de Charles Baudelaire

Articles

« Le poème en prose et l'art de la subversion : Le Spleen de Paris de Charles Baudelaire », in Kemal Feki et Moez Rebai (éds), 'Les Ecritures subversives. Modalités et enjeux', Paris, L'Harmattan, collection "Au cœur des textes", 2020, pp. 235-253. 'Le Spleen de Paris' est considéré comme l’un des tout premiers recueils de poésie en prose de la littérature française, et le sous-titre Petits poëmes en prose tend à présenter le « genre » ou la « forme » ainsi désignée comme un référent établi, qui permettrait une catégorisation immédiate du recueil pour le lecteur contemporain de Baudelaire. Or, il n’en est rien car, contrairement à une idée un peu trop vite reçue, le « poème en prose », à la charnière des années 1850-1860, n’a aucun contour bien défini, que ce soit en tant que forme, à laquelle serait associée tel ou tel procédé de composition, ou en tant que genre ou catégorie esthétique. C’est, à l’époque, un mode d’expression qui n’a été employé que très ponctuellement par quelques auteurs, sans que l’on puisse observer de l’un à l’autre une quelconque unité dans les procédés et les intentions. L’objectif de cet article sera de montrer, à travers l’étude de diverses modalités de composition, que, si Baudelaire adopte le poème en prose pour écrire les textes qui seront réunis dans Le Spleen de Paris, c’est justement parce que ce mode d’expression demeure flou et marginal, « informe », au sens propre du terme, et qu’il s’adaptait ainsi idéalement aux intentions subversives qui sont sous-jacentes au projet même du recueil, et qui, d’un poème à l’autre, esquissent une critique à la fois virulente et amère de la société du Second Empire.

01-Feb-2020 Le zombie tatoué. Une passion post-moderne

Articles

Rick Genest s’est suicidé le 1er août 2018, chez lui, à Montréal. Plus connu sous le nom de Zombie Boy, son corps était presque entièrement recouvert de tatouages qui lui donnaient l’apparence d’un mort vivant. Il était très populaire au Canada et aux Etats-Unis, et sa mort a suscité une vive émotion que les journaux ont expliquée en suggérant que ce jeune homme avait paru réaliser le destin auquel il s’était lui-même condamné, en le gravant sur sa peau. Peut-être fut-ce sa façon à lui de gérer la pulsion de mort qui le tourmentait, et retarda-t-il l’heure de son suicide en peignant sur son corps cette décomposition de sa chair et de ses entrailles qu’il cherchait à exorciser chaque matin devant son miroir – ou bien à laquelle il aspirait peut-être, pour se libérer d’une vie dont il ne savait que faire malgré sa popularité et ses succès médiatiques. Cette fin est à proprement parler « tragique », puisqu’elle semble avoir été annoncée par celui-là même qui allait en être la victime, sans qu’il en eût vraiment conscience, et elle ne fit qu’ajouter force compassion à la fascination que le personnage suscitait déjà de son vivant, le cliché romantique du jeune homme sensible à qui tout finit par réussir mais que cette réussite ne satisfait pas provoquant toujours une vive empathie de la part du public. De telles explications, qui associent psychologie et sociologie collectives, ont certainement leur raison d’être, mais l’attrait que suscita Zombie Boy, vivant ou mort, a aussi une tout autre cause. Rick Genest a fasciné les foules, et particulièrement les plus jeunes générations, parce qu’il incarnait, au sens propre du terme, deux phénomènes culturels qui se sont largement répandus dans la société depuis une vingtaine d’années, le zombie et le tatouage.

01-Jan-2020 Rimbaud, Brecht, Benjamin : Une 'histoire splendide

Articles

RÉSUMÉ – Cette étude s’appuie sur les conversations que W. Benjamin eut avec B. Brecht à propos de Rimbaud et du Bateau ivre. Elle vise à comprendre pourquoi le poète français a retenu l’attention du philosophe allemand, par la mission qu’il assignait à l’artiste et la vision de l’histoire qui était la sienne. À l’instar de la critique du surréalisme, la poésie de Rimbaud constitua pour Benjamin une étape importante pour penser la société de son époque, tout en confortant ses thèses sur l’histoire.

01-Nov-2019 Samuel Beckett lecteur de L’Etranger

Articles

« Samuel Beckett lecteur de L’Etranger », Irish Journal of French Studies, Volume 19, 2019, pp. 186-206. Dans sa première partie, cet article reprend les méthodes propres à l'histoire littéraire afin d'établir, sur la base de données factuelles, que Samuel Beckett avait lu et appréciait L'Etranger d'Albert Camus. Mais, comme l'expose une seconde partie, cet intérêt qu'il porte au roman se traduit également dans l'écriture même de plusieurs scènes de Molloy, le premier roman de la trilogie que Samuel Beckett commence à rédiger en 1947, et qui l'occupera jusqu'en 1949. En menant en parallèle l'étude textuelle de certains passages de Molloy et de trois extraits de L'Etranger, l'incipit, la scène du meurtre, et le premier entretien avec le juge d'instruction, nous montrerons que l'oeuvre de Beckett comporte des choix lexicaux et syntaxiques ainsi que certains motifs qui lui ont été directement inspirés par le roman de Camus. Au fur et à mesure que se précisera la nature et la forme du dialogue entre les deux oeuvres, il apparaîtra que si celui s'est instauré, c'est parce que Beckett voyait dans L'Etranger un roman qui recoupait en partie ses propres choix esthétiques de l'immédiate après-guerre.

Relevant Events

Related events:

Date Details
12-May-2021 Lydia Davis, Writing, Reading and Translation | Lydia Davis, écrire, lire et traduire

Winner of several literary prizes, including the Man Booker International in 2013, Lydia Davis is today recognised as one of the most innovative New York writers of the last few decades. Specialising in flash fiction, the writing of very short stories with no more than a few sentences, Davis has mastered a literary genre that originates in ancient fables and parables but that is also very popular in American literature. Her tales originate in what Emily Eells calls ‘intertextes’, the writer starting by playing with language, from some words overheard or a striking sentence she read. From this, Davis develops highly original and singular stories – or, perhaps, better to speak of snapshots, depictions, or sketches. Reflections of the ever-changing modern society we live in, Davis’ experiments in form allow her to question the way people perceive and interpret each other’s words and actions. Davis is especially interested in the difficulties men and women encounter in understanding one another, and in the way gender clichés and prejudices lead to such misunderstanding. An abiding interest in intercultural exchanges and problems of communication partly explains Davis’ enduring dedication to translation. Translator of some of the most prominent French writers of the 20th century – Marcel Proust, Gustave Flaubert, Pierre Jean Jouve, Maurice Blanchot and Michel Leiris – Davis’ own approach to literary writing is heavily rooted in the practice of careful reading and translation. Indeed, the way Davis deals with situations and narrative processes appears to be directly influenced by her engagement as a translator of these French writers. Her interest in feminism has also led her to translate Françoise Giroud’s biography, Marie Curie: A Life, a work which inspired her story ‘Marie Curie, So Honorable Woman’. And, more recently, at the dawn of the 21st century, she offered two remarkable translations of Proust’s Swann's Way and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary to the American market – which is unsurprising given that many of her own short stories sound as ironical as both of these writers, in particular the way she deals with situations and narrative processes. Reading literature and reading the world (where ‘reading’ can be understood as ‘interpreting’ or ‘translating’), writing and translation are contiguous and intersecting in Davis’ approach to literature. The aim of this conference is to explore Davis’ strong interest in intercultural exchange, the problems of communication and translation – and the creative dynamics they initiate and sustain.

18-May-2020 Samuel Beckett et la Guerre d’Algérie/Samuel Beckett and the Algerian War

In her book, 'Beckett’s Political Imagination', Emilie Morin notes how, by the end of the 1950s, Samuel Beckett had become aware of the actions of the French army in Algeria and, among other things, its established practice of torture. This talk will build on Morin’s work by demonstrating how Beckett’s knowledge of these practices deeply influenced his writing of Comment c’est (1961) [How it Is], which has strong intertextual links with Henri Alleg’s 'La Question' (1958) [The Question], one of the most important testimonies on torture in Algeria ever published. It will be argued that it is possible to reread 'Comment c’est' as a coded denunciation of French colonial policy, and that this is one of Beckett’s most ‘committed’ texts.

09-May-2020 Walter Benjamin and The task of the translator

Walter Benjamin worked several times on “The Task of the Translator” at the end of the 1910s and at the beginning of the 1920s, before publishing it in 1923, as a Preface to his translation of Baudelaire’s "Parisian Scenes". Almost a century later, his article is still mentioned as a reference in translation studies, but to understand it we have to link it with Benjamin’s philosophical thought, and especially with his conception of language, perception and knowledge at this early period of his career – otherwise risk misunderstanding the specificities of his proposals, and reducing them to mere common-sense rules.

12-Dec-2019 Walter Benjamin and the 19th century Today

Walter Benjamin is one of the most prominent European philosophers, writers and commentators of the interwar period. Today, in the early 21st century, his work is more influential than ever and available in translation across a wide range of languages – not only his essays and articles, but also his literary texts, his correspondence, and countless notes and drafts. Among the numerous fields he investigated, his understanding of the 19th century and his conceptualization of the closely related concept of modernity are undoubtedly among his most significant achievements, although he never completed his Magnum Opus, The Arcades Project. Assuming with him and Michelet that “every epoch dreams the one to follow”, the time has come, nearly eighty years after his death, to review the way scholars think about the 19th century today in light of his work – and this includes critical approaches that takes issue with his ideas. The conference theme can thus be formulated in a more Benjaminian way: its “subject matter” will be to study the echoes today of how the 19th century dreamt its own future.

10-May-2019 Jules Verne and the Nineteenth Century in light of Walter Benjamin

Jules Verne’s work is often presented as a pleasant set of adventure novels, with a travel-guide aspect and a more or less scientific background. But this lecture offers another approach to Verne’s "Extraordinary Voyages", in light of some Walter Benjamin’s proposals. Jules Verne was a middle-class writer, fed with common bourgeois ideology, and his novels reflect the way the French society he was living in “dreamt its future”, to paraphrase Benjamin’s words, especially in Verne’s never-ending dialog about prospective science, or his numerous descriptions of landscapes and machineries. In brilliant stories, the writer echoes the anxiety of a society shared between the attractive promises of science, progress and industry, and an inextinguishable fear that the promise land might collapse in a final apocalypse. It is the coexistence of these two contradictory tendencies that defines Jules Verne’s “modernity”.

09-May-2019 Beckett and Translation

Before being his own translator, Samuel Beckett translated many texts in English from French, Italian, or Spanish and, among them, many recent French poems, from Rimbaud’s "The Drunken boat" to surrealist poetry. In this workshop, we will compare French original versions of Rimbaud’s and Eluard’s poems with Beckett’s translations, with a special attention to versification, rhythm and musicality.

08-May-2019 Baudelaire and the Second Empire

With his uncompleted "Paris Spleen", whose writing was interrupted by illness and a soon coming death, Baudelaire made a last attempt to reflect upon the situation of the artist in society of the Second Empire, “in the age of high capitalism”, to quote the famous – but also problematic, as we will see – phrase by Walter Benjamin’s. Following Marc Berdet’s proposal, what Baudelaire did in his prose poems could be compared to a ragman’s work, the poet collecting wastes of the Napoleonian Paris to reveal the true face of the society he is living in. But metaphorical rags of the 19th century are not only objects, places or monuments, they are also people living on the margins of society, and especially female figures as comedians, prostitutes, lesbians, black women, freaks, whose shadows haunt the Paris of Baudelaire – which will lead us to reevaluate women’s role in his work.

12-Oct-2017 Jouer Beckett/Performing Beckett

To what extent is the interpretation of a playwright’s works determined by the performance conditions in the country where they are performed? Four study days held in Bordeaux and London address this question in relation to Samuel Beckett, whose plays reveal different qualities depending on whether they are staged in France or in the UK. They evaluate the influence of cultural intermediaries on the reception of his bilingual oeuvre through analysis of the following elements: directorial customs, actor training and acting practices, theatre management, institutional financial and material resources, touring networks, and audience demographics. Research papers will help will help participants identify and compare different factors at play in the critical (and staged) readings of Beckett’s plays in France and the UK, which may influence how the work is perceived.

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