Marguerite Duras and Barney Rosset, 1969

Marguerite Duras and Barney Rosset, 1969

Transatlantic Pacts: America and the Production of Postwar French Literature

A Newhouse at Home Presentation by Sara Kippur
Dec 3, 2020, 4–5:15 PM
Open to the Wellesley College campus community only

While at the Newhouse Center, I will be working on my current book project, a literary history tentatively titled Transatlantic Pacts: America and the Production of Postwar French Literature. The book demonstrates how institutional shifts in the U.S.—in literary journalism, the expansion of Hollywood, the rise of television, and the explosion of the college textbook industry—transformed how French literature was produced and read both in America as well as, more surprisingly, in France itself. Drawing on archival collections in France and the U.S., Transatlantic Pacts examines a slate of unknown, and lesser known, literary materials to show ties between American cultural institutions and the writing of some of France’s most renowned postwar writers—authors such as Samuel Beckett, Assia Djebar, Marguerite Duras, Romain Gary, Eugène Ionesco, Alain Robbe-Grillet, and Jean-Paul Sartre.

My Newhouse presentation will focus on the French writer Marguerite Duras (see image above), whose 1959 film Hiroshima mon amour earned her an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay. In light of new archival discoveries, my talk asks how we might take a renewed look at one of Duras’ most well-regarded novels, The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein (1964), knowing now that she originally wrote the book as a screenplay for American television audiences. The talk will situate this discussion through a comparative examination of television and media culture in France and the U.S. in the early 1960s. This presentation will also feature commentary from Professor Codruța Morari (CAMS, French).

Sara Kippur is Associate Professor of French at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, where she also serves as Chair of the Department of Language & Culture Studies (on leave in 2020-21). Her research is at the intersection of 20th-21st century French and Francophone literature, translation studies, cultural studies, and book history. She has published a scholarly monograph on modern and contemporary self-translators, titled Writing It Twice: Self-translation and the Making of a World Literature in French (Northwestern, 2015), and she is co-editor of the volume Being Contemporary: French Literature, Culture, and Politics Today (Liverpool, 2016), which examines current, pressing issues in the field of French Studies.

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