Alison James

French House Virtual Lecture Series: Alison James

Factual Writing and the Photographic Paradigm
Oct 21, 2021, 12:45–2:15 PM
Free and open to the public

Wellesley’s French House welcomes University of Chicago professor Alison James for her lecture “Factual Writing and the Photographic Paradigm.”

Bringing together narrative theory and examples from modernist and avant-garde French literature, this talk considers how the naturalist novelists' notion of the “human document” is reoriented in the twentieth century by the model of photography, which comes to dominate conceptions of the documentary mode even outside visual media. This analysis also reveals, however, the limitations of this photographic paradigm for our understanding of the relationship between fact and fiction in literature.

Alison James is Professor of French at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Constraining Chance: Georges Perec and the Oulipo (Northwestern UP, 2009) and The Documentary Imagination in Twentieth-Century French Literature: Writing with Facts (Oxford UP, 2020). She has also edited volumes and journal issues on literary formalism, fieldwork literatures, and nonfiction across media.

Please register in advance.

For more information, please contact:

Abi Sandy,