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Rethinking French Intellectuals
International Symposium
November 5-6, 2007

Open to the public

Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies
Florida State University, Tallahassee
Diffenbaugh 009


During the century since intellectuals first emerged as a publicly recognized category in France, there have been many changes in both the concept and status of intellectuals. While their death has been frequently announced of late, they show remarkable longevity albeit in evolving guises. This international symposium aims to re-assess the role of French intellectuals in relation to the political sphere, a relationship through which, during the Dreyfus affair, they were first defined as a distinct social and professional category. In particular, speakers will seek to elucidate changing and in some cases neglected aspects of the public role of intellectuals. These include the relationship between intellectuals and the media, the role of intellectuals as expert witnesses in politically charged criminal trials, the rise of ‘Francophone’ (as distinct from ‘French’) intellectuals, the gendering of intellectual interventions and the challenge of new ethnicities and belief systems in the light of the century-old law on laïcité.

All conference sessions are located in Diffenbaugh 009

1:30-2:30 pm
In French
Keynote speaker: La crise des intellectuels français : aspects historiques et retombées historiographiques
Jean-François Sirinelli (Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris)
Chair : William J. Cloonan (FSU)
2:30-3:30 pmCoffee break
3:30-4:30 pm
In English
Intellectuals and the lawHenry Rousso (Institut d’Histoire du Temps Présent, Paris)
Chair : Terry Coonan (FSU)
4:30-5:30 pm
In French
Intellectuals and the media - Christian Delporte (Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines)
Chair : Alec G. Hargreaves (FSU)

10:15 am-11:15 am
In English
Intellectuals and laïcité - Jean Baubérot (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris)
Chair : John Kelsay (FSU)
11:15 am-12:15 pm
In English
Gender and intellectuals - Janine Mossuz-Lavau(Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris)
Chair : Irene Padavic (FSU)
12:15-2:30 pmLunch Break
2:30-3:30 pm
In English
Francophone intellectuals - Charles Forsdick (Liverpool University, UK) and David Murphy (Stirling University, UK)
Chair : Joseph Hellweg (FSU)
3:30-4:30 pm
In English
French Intellectuals and the Iraq War - Matthew A Kemp (Kent State University)
Chair : Michael Creswell (FSU)

Notes on speakers

Jean Baubérot ( is Professor of the History and Sociology of Laïcité (i.e. the institutional separation of church and state) at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he was the founding Director of the Research Group on the Sociology of Religions and Laïcité from 1995 to 2002. His publications include Le protestantisme doit-il mourir? (Paris : Seuil, 1988), Histoire du protestantisme (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 6th edition, 2007), La morale laïque contre l’ordre moral (Paris, Seuil, 1997), Une haine oubliée: l’antiprotestantisme avant le pacte laïque, 1870-1905 (Paris: Albin Michel, 2000), La Laïcité, 1905-2005, entre passion et raison (Paris: Seuil, 2004), Histoire de la laïcité en France (Paris, PUF, 4rd edition, 2007) and Les laïcités dans le monde (Paris : PUF, 2007)

Christian Delporte ( is Professor of contemporary history at the Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en Yvelines and Director of the Centre d’histoire culturelle des sociétés contemporaines. He works on 20th century politicial and cultural history with particular reference to media history. He is President of the Société pour l’histoire des médias et Director of the journal Le Temps des médias. His books include Intellectuels et politique en France au XXè siècle (Casterman-Giunti, 1995); Les journalistes en France, de 1880 à nos jours, de 1880 à 1950 (Seuil, 1999); Histoire des médias en France, de la Grande Guerre à nos jours (Flammarion, 2003) (with F. d’Almeida); Images et politique en France au XXè siècle (Nouveau-Monde Editions, 2006); La France dans les yeux. Une histoire de la communication politique de 1930 à aujourd’hui (Flammarion, 2007).

Charles Forsdick ( is James Barrow Professor of French at the University of Liverpool. His recent publications include Victor Segalen and the Aesthetics of Diversity (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000), Francophone Postcolonial Studies: A Critical Introduction (London: Arnold, 2003; co-edited with David Murphy), and Travel in Twentieth-Century French and Francophone Cultures: The Persistence of Diversity (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005). He is currently completing books on representations of Toussaint Louverture and on the travel writing of Ella Maillart, and is co-editing (with David Murphy) a volume entitled Postcolonial Thought in the Francophone World. He edits the Liverpool University Press series ‘Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures’.

Matthew A. Kemp ( is Assistant Professor of French at Kent State University. He completed his doctoral dissertation on “Empire, Terror and Human Rights: Political and Intellectual Discourses in France and the United States Since 9/11” at Florida State University in 2006. He has recent and forthcoming articles in Contemporary French and Francophone Studies and the Journal of European Studies and is currently working on a study of French intellectuals in the new millennium.

Janine Mossuz-Lavau ( a Senior Research Fellow with the Centre National de la Recherche scientifique (CNRS) and is based at the Centre de recherches politiques de Sciences Po (CEVIPOF), Paris. Among her publications in the field of gender studies are Enquête sur les femmes et la politique en France (with Mariette Sineau, Paris: PUF, 1983), Les femmes et la politique (co-edited with Armelle Le Bras-Chopard, Paris: L'Harmattan, 1997), Les femmes ne sont pas des hommes comme les autres comme les autres (with avec Anne de Kervasdoué, Paris : Odile Jacob, 1997), Femmes/Hommes. Pour la parité (Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 1998), Les lois de l'amour. Les politiques de la sexualité en France. 1950-2002 (Paris: Payot, 2002), Quand les femmes s'en mêlent. Genre et pouvoir (co-edited with Christine Bard et Christian Baudelot, Paris: les Editions de la Martinière, 2004), La prostitution à Paris (co-edited with Marie-Elisabeth Handman Paris : Editions de la Martinière, 2005).

David Murphy ( is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in French at the University of Stirling (UK). He has written widely on African literature and cinema, as well as on the relationship between Francophone studies and postcolonial theory. He is the author of Sembene: Imagining Alternatives in Film and Fiction (James Currey, 2000), and is co-author (with Patrick Williams) of Postcolonial African Cinema: Ten Directors (Manchester UP, 2007). He is also the co-editor (both with Charles Forsdick) of Francophone Postcolonial Studies: A Critical Introduction (Arnold, 2003) and Postcolonial Thought in the Francophone World (Liverpool UP, 2008).

Henry Rousso ( is a Senior Research Fellow with the Centre National de la Recherche scientifique (CNRS) and is based at the Institut d'histoire du temps présent (IHTP), which he directed from 1994 to 2004. He is also Professor at the Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences-Po) and at the Université de Paris-X Nanterre. His research focuses on history, memory and trauma, especially with reference to World War II. His main books include : The Vichy Syndrome. History and Memory in France since 1944, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991 (Paris: 1987); Vichy, An Ever-Present Past, with E. Conan, Hanover: University Press of New England, 1998 (Paris: 1994); The Haunting Past. History, Memory, and Justice in France, Philadelphia: Penn Press, 2002 (Paris: 1998); Stalinism and Nazism (ed), Nebraska University Press, 2004 (Brussels: 1999); Vichy. L’Événement, la mémoire, l’histoire, Paris: Gallimard, 2001.

Jean-François Sirinelli ( is Professor of Contemporary history at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences-Po), where he is Director of the Centre d’histoire de Sciences Po (Fondation Nationales des Sciences Politiques). His current research concerns the political and cultural history of France under the Fifth Republic. His recent publications include Les Baby-Boomers (Paris : Fayard, 2003), Comprendre le XXe siècle français (Paris : Fayard, 2005) and Les Vingt Décisives. 1965-1985 (Paris : Fayard, 2007). He is at present preparing a book on May 1968. He is Director of the Revue Historique and of Histoire@politique, Politique, culture, société, on-line at

For more information contact:
Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-1540 Telephone 850.644.7636 Fax 850.644.9917 E-mail Website 

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