Being Contemporary: French Literature, Culture and Politics Today

BookBeing Contemporary: French Literature, Culture and Politics Today

Being Contemporary: French Literature, Culture and Politics Today

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 39


January 26th, 2016

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Being Contemporary is a volume of original essays by 23 preeminent scholars of French and Comparative literature, hailing from both sides of the Atlantic, in response to the editors’ invitation to “think through the contemporary.” The volume offers a sustained critical reflection on the contemporary as a concept, a category, a condition, and a set of relationships to others and to one’s own time. Being Contemporary emerges from a sense of a critical urgency to probe the notion of “the contemporary,” and the place of the contemporary critic, in French literary and cultural studies today. Its point of departure is Susan Suleiman’s book Risking Who One Is (Harvard, 1994), which proposed two decades ago that “being contemporary” offers a heuristic category for assessing the role of the scholar and critic, for studying the current moment in literature, art, and culture, and for engaging with historical and philosophical questions in a way that resonates with readers in the present day. Returning to these ideas with renewed vigor, the thought-provoking essays that comprise this volume center on 20th- and 21st-century French literature, politics, memory, and history, and problematize the contemporary as a critical position with respect to the current moment.

'Lia Brozgal and Sara Kippur’s edited volume is impressive in its scope and in the intellectual level of its essays...providing useful theoretical concepts and models of thought that other scholars can productively apply to their own areas and objects of study.'
David Petterson, H-France Review

'This volume is, therefore, a foundational consideration of the academic’s position in time as well as a fitting tribute to Susan Suleiman, one of our field’s most influential, humane, and engaged scholars.'
Kathryn Kleppinger, Bulletin of Francophone Postcolonial Studies

'As a book exploring how Susan Rubin Suleiman’s thought continues to orient and inspire research in a number of disciplines, Being Contemporary is nothing short of excellent.'
Lucas Hollister, French Review

Author Information

Lia Brozgal is Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies in the Department of European Languages and Transcultural Studies (ELTS) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Sara Kippur is Assistant Professor of French at Trinity College, Connecticut.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Introduction: Being Contemporary, Then And Now13
I. Conceptualizing the Contemporary25
1. Coping with Contemporariness27
2. Rethinking Periodization for the ‘Now-Time’41
3. (After) Conceptualism55
II. Contemporary Politics and French Thought77
4. Identities in Flux79
5. The Paradoxes of Being Contemporary95
6. Of Sade, Blanchot, and the French Twentieth Century109
7. Alain Badiou and Antisemitism119
III. The Second World War and Vichy: Present Perspectives137
8. What Does ‘Vichy’ Mean Now?139
9. Forces of Solidarity and Logics of Exclusion156
10. Narrative, Testimony, Fiction: The Challenge of Not Forgetting the Holocaust174
11. ‘Moral Witnessing’?: An Israeli Perspective on Jonathan Littell’s Les Bienveillantes 189
12. From ‘Never Forgetting’ to ‘Post-Remembering’ and ‘Co-witnessing’205
IV. Writing the Contemporary Self223
13. ‘I’ in the Plural: A New Writing of History 225
14. Selves at Risk: Reading Susan Suleiman with Marc Augé, La Vie en double242
15. Risking Who One Is, at the Risk of Thinking255
16. ‘La Connaissance par corps’ : Writing and Self-Exposure in Annie Ernaux272
V. Novel Rereadings291
17. Long Live Anachronism 293
18. Colette’s Côtelettes, or the Word Made Flesh317
19. Choices: Beckett’s Way331
20. Making L’Etranger Contemporary346
VI. Memory: Past and Future359
21. A Nest in the Air: Phantom Pain and Contemporary Narrative361
22. Adrien and Marcel Proust : Fathering Neurasthenic Memory374
23. Vulnerable Times 386