Being Contemporary: French Literature, Culture and Politics Today

Edited by Lia Brozgal and Sara Kippur

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ISBN: 9781781382639

Publication: January 26, 2016

Series: Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures 39

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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 is Associate Professor of French at UCLA.

Sara Kippur is Assistant Professor of French at Trinity College, Connecticut.

Introduction: Being Contemporary, Then and Now

Lia Brozgal and Sara Kippur

I. Conceptualizing the Contemporary

1. Henry Rousso, “Coping with Contemporariness”

2. Emily Apter, “Rethinking Periodization for the Now Time”

3. Carrie Noland, “(After) Conceptualism: Contemporaneity and Choreography”

II. Contemporary Politics and French Thought

4. Régine Robin, “Identities in Flux”

5. Lawrence D. Kritzman, “The Paradoxes of Being Contemporary: Derrida and the Political”

6. Jeffrey Mehlman, “Of Sade, Blanchot, and the French Twentieth Century: Thoughts at Columbia”

7. Maurice Samuels, “Alain Badiou and Antisemitism”

III. World War II and Vichy: Present Perspectives

8. Richard J. Golsan, “What Does ‘Vichy’ Mean Now?”

9. Gisèle Sapiro, “Forces of Solidarity and Logics of Exclusion: The Role of Literary Institutions in Times of Crisis”

10. Jakob Lothe, “Narrative, Testimony, Fiction: The Challenge of Not Forgetting the Holocaust”

11. Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, “‘Moral Witnessing?’” An Israeli Perspective on Jonathan Littell’s Les Bienveillantes

12. Irene Kacandes, “From ‘Never Forgetting’ to ‘Post-Remembering’ and ‘Co-Witnessing’: Memory Work for the Twenty-First Century”

IV. Writing the Contemporary Self

13. Annette Wieviorka, “‘I’ in the Plural: A New Writing of History”

14. Tom Conley, “Selves at Risk: Reading Susan Suleiman with Marc Augé, La Vie en double”

15. Alice Jardine, “Risking Who One Is, At The Risk of Thinking: On Writing an Intellectual Biography of Julia Kristeva”

16. Michael Sheringham, “‘La Connaissance par corps’: Writing and Self-Exposure in Annie Ernaux”

V. Novel Rereadings

17. Mieke Bal, “Long Live Anachronism”

18. Janet Beizer, “Colette’s Côtelettes, or the Word Made Flesh”

19. Christie McDonald, “Choices: Beckett’s Way”

20. Alice Kaplan, “Making L'Etranger Contemporary: Kamel Daoud’s Meursault, contre-enquête

VI. Memory: Past and Future

21. Emmanuel Bouju, “A Nest in the Air: Phantom Pain and Contemporary Narrative”

22. Deborah Jenson, “Adrien and Marcel Proust: The Memory Patient”

23. Marianne Hirsch, “Vulnerable Times”

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


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


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

Format: Hardback

Size: 239 × 163 mm

288 Pages

ISBN: 9781781382639

Publication: January 26, 2016

Series: Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures 39

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