Past Speakers

Winter 2022

Ms. Fatoumata Sidibe, a Belgo-Malian author, businesswoman, and former member of Belgian parliament for 10 years will give a presentation, in French, about:

“Afro-descendant(e)s et participation politique en Belgique: quels enjeux et quels defis?”

Her website: https://www.fatoumatasidibe.com/

Location of the lecture: Samford University in Brooks Hall, Room 134

812 Montaigue Drive, Homewood, AL

Friday, November 11th 2022, at 6.30pm

“The Quebec Connection” by Marie Claude Fortin

This lecture will be held in French. Cette presentation sera en francais.

Location: In the Brooks Hall Auditorium (first floor) at Samford University, 812 Montaigue Drive, Homewood, Alabama

Friday, October 28th 2022, at 6.30pm

Fall 2022

“Restoring The Great Cathedrals of France Today: Notre Dame De Paris and beyond” by Dr. Jennifer Feltman from the University of Alabama

Location: In the Brooks Hall Auditorium (first floor) at Samford University, 812 Montaigue Drive, Homewood, Alabama

Thursday September 8th, 2022, at 6.30pm

Fall 2021

Author Jane Gabin’s talk on her book “The Paris Photo” via Zoom.

“The Paris Photo” website

Date: September 23, 2021 Time: 7:00 – 8:00 PM Please

Spring 2021

Presentation on Johnny Hallyday and discussion of a few of his songs by Mary McCullough.

Date: May. 27, 2021 Time: 6:30 PM

Discussion of Daudet’s Le Curé de Cucugnan by Jeanne Classé

Date: Apr. 29, 2021 Time: 6:30 PM

Presentation on the history of French music by Benlee Huguley

Date: Mar. 25, 2021 Time: 6:30 PM

Winter 2021

La règle du jeu (1939) by Jean Renoir

Available on YouTube for free or on Amazon Prime. Discussion at 6:30 (Mary McCullough). 

Date: Feb. 25, 2021 Time: 6:30 PM Discussion

Fall and Winter 2020

Film Discussion: “La Belle et la Bête” led by Mary McCullough.

Date: September 24, 2020 Time: 6:30-7:30 PM (online)

Reimagining Vessels: What Moves Us Across the Sea?

Date: Feb. 3, 2020 Time: 6:00 PM Location: University Hall 2005

Spring and Summer 2019

Date: Jul. 14, 2019 Time: 6:00 – 9:00 PM Location: Home of Melinda Shallcross

Date: Apr. 20, 2019 Time: 7:00 PM Location: Hulsey Center, Hulsey Recital Hall (1st floor)

Documentary Screening and Discussion of Le Choix de Théo with its Director Thomas Cauvin

Date: Apr. 20, 2019 Time: 7:00 PM Location: Hulsey Center, Hulsey Recital Hall (1st floor)

Fall 2018

WWII France, The Resistance, and The Role of the French Communist Party

Historian Julian McPhillips will present a lecture in English in collaboration with the Alliance Française of Birmingham. 

Date: Sept. 21, 2018 Time: 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM Location: Hulsey Center, Hulsey Recital Hall (1st floor)

Free and open to the public.

Winter and Spring 2017

Alliance Française of Birmingham; UAB Jemison Visiting Professorship in the Humanities; University of Montevallo; University of Alabama; and The French Cultural Services (Atlanta) invite the Public to a lecture in English by Pap Ndiaye.

On April 17, 1917, the United States of America entered World War I. During the Great War, over one million American soldiers went to France. Over 116,500 U.S. soldiers gave their lives in combat and another 200,000 were wounded, a casualty rate far greater than in World War II.

The event is of particular interest to UAB students and faculty since World War I changed our world. Women joined the ranks of the U.S. armed forces, as did Native Americans and members of other minority groups including more than 350,000 African Americans.
Thousands of African American soldiers, many from the South, saw combat for the first time, thirty-one years before the executive order issued on July 26, 1948, by President Harry S. Truman abolishing racial discrimination in the United States Armed Forces. When French General Pétain asked for soldiers, General Pershing agreed to lend 40,000 American Black soldiers to the French army. Two regiments were given French riffles and steel “Adrian” helmet and fought side by side with the “Poilus” (nickname of French soldiers during WWI).
Following a parade through Paris amidst the enthusiastic and welcoming embrace of the French, General Pershing, his aide-de-camp Stanton, and the American troops arrived at the grave of the Marquis to recognize the enormous contribution of Lafayette. Stanton then said the ultimate return-the-favor quote: ” Lafayette, nous voilà (Lafayette, we are here!).”

On April 2017, France and the United States will celebrate the 100th anniversary of this event. To commemorate the centenial, the Alliance Francaise of Birmingham, the University of Montevallo, the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa), and the UAB Jemison Visiting Professorship in the Humanities are sponsoring a lecture discussing African American soldiers during WWI by leading French historian Pap Ndiaye, on Saturday, April 22, 2017, at 7:00 pm, at the UAB Hulsey Recital Hall.

Dr. Pap Ndiaye will also speak at several other institutions during the week. On Wednesday, April 19, 2017, Dr. Ndiaye will lecture on “Race Matters in France,” at 5:00 pm at the University of Montevallo (contact Dr. Rosa Maria Stoops, StoopsRM@montevallo.edu). He will also speak at the University of Alabama (contact Dr. Michael Picone, picone@ua.edu), the University of Georgia (contact Mr. Alexandre Durand, alexandre.durand@diplomatie.gouv.fr), and tentatively at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (contact Dr. Ahmad Ward, award@bcri.org).

Dr. Pap Ndiaye is a French historian, specializing in African America history as well as minority groups in France. He holds a doctorate from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) where he was a lecturer before being elected Professor at the prestigious Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) in 2012. He is a member of the Center for North American Studies and of the editorial board of the journal, History, as a specialist on the United States. From 1991 to 1996, he studied in the United States to prepare his doctoral thesis on the petrochemical company, DuPont.

Dr. Ndiaye’s current work at the EHESS focuses on the “Black Question,” the discourse and practice of racial discrimination in France and America. He is a pioneer of the “Black Studies” in France, and in collaboration with Patrick Lozès, president of the Representative Council of Black Associations of France (CRAN), founded the Circle of Action for the Promotion of Diversity in France (CAPDIV).

Selected publications of Dr. Pap Ndiaye:
Du nylon et des bombes. Du Pont de Nemours, l’État et le marché,1900-1970, Paris, Belin, 2001. Translation in English, Nylon and Bombs, DuPont and the March of Modern America, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.
La Condition noire. Essai sur une minorité française, Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 2008. Translated in Japanese and Chinese. [The Black Condition. Essay on a French Minority]
Histoire de Chicago, Paris, Fayard, 2013 (with Andrew Diamond). History of Chicago, forthcoming translation in English (2018).
La Démocratie en Amérique au XXe siècle, Paris, Belin, 2000 (with Jean Heffer and François Weil). [Democracy in America in the 20th Century]
Black Americans: Running for Equality, Study (Paperback) 2009.

Mission du Centenaire (côté américain) : http://centenaire.org/fr
WW1 Centennial Commission (côté français) : http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/
For more information, please contact Dr. Serge Bokobza at sbokobza@uab.edu or at 205 879 9939.

Date: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free

Alliance Française of Birmingham & UAB Department of Foreign Languages invite the Public to a recital and a lecture in English by Jody Coombs, piano instructor at the Conservatory of Fine and Performing Arts at Birmingham-Southern College. “From Couperin to Poulenc: French Keyboard Music through the Centuries”.

Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free

Alliance Française of Birmingham & UAB Department of Foreign Languages invite the Public to a lecture in English by Bernard Cerquiglini, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Paris, France.

“A Joint History of the English and French Languages”

Languages, as a means of communication and interaction among humans, grow as a result of historical events and developments. Invasions as well as political and economic factors affect languages, especially those in close contact. A comparative history of the English and French languages is an excellent example of this phenomenon. Over several centuries, both languages have influenced each other, while gaining cultural hence normative leadership throughout the world. As a result of their constant contact, today, the English vocabulary is largely of French origin, while the great majority of new French words continue to be borrowed from English.

This mutual exchange reminds us that languages are neither isolated nor protected entities, that plurilingualism is part of all human communication, and that languages will continue to grow and have to be practiced with their various origins and their rich imports.

Dr. Cerquiglini has a long and distinguished career as a professor of Linguistics, and as author of more than 12 books. In addition to his position at the University of Paris, he has been invited as Visiting Professor at Trinity College in Dublin, the University of Helsinki, the Free University of Brussels, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of California Berkeley, the University of California Santa Barbara, and Louisiana State University where he directed the Center for French and Francophone Studies.

Beside his eminent academic career, Dr. Cerquiglini held numerous national and international administrative positions. In France, he was General Delegate of the French Language and the Languages of France at the Ministry of Culture, President of the National Reading Observatory at the Ministry of National Education, Vice President of the Superior Council of the French Language presided by the Prime Minister, Director of the National Institute of the French Language at the National Center for Scientific Research, and General Delegate of the French Language Office of the Prime Minister. Most recently, he served as Chancellor of the worldwide Agency of Francophone Universities.

Dr. Cerquiglini is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions. Among others, he is a Knight in the National Order of Merit, Officer of the Legion of Honor, Commander in the Order of Academic Palms, and Commander in the Order of Arts & Letters. His publications received the Honoré Chavée Prize of the Academy of Inscriptions & Letters, and the Georges Duménil Prize of the French Academy.

For many years, Dr. Cerquiglini has also run the very popular television program Merci professeur! on the global television network TV5 Monde.

Date: Saturday, February 4, 2017
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free

Winter, Spring and Fall 2016

Alliance Française of Birmingham & UAB Department of Foreign Languages invite the Public to a lecture in English by Serge Bokobza, Professor of French and Cinema Studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Alabama USA

The lecture delves into the question of a Jewish identity as characterized in works of French cinematic fiction in accordance with the history of the Jews of France, using the centrality of the emancipation paradigm of 1791 and the theoretical frame provided by Jean-Paul Sartre’s Réflexions sur la question juive. Bokobza identifies and describes three categories of films produced between 1950 and 2010 that represent the manner in which directors portrayed an evolving Jewish identity and its relation to French society. From the template La Grande Illusion to contemporary releases, the lecture argues that French Jewish-identity films dwell in the sociological realm of Jewishness, as the epicenter of tension is rooted in identity rather than religion. Books will be available for purchase and signing at the end of the lecture.

Serge Bokobza is Professor of French and Cinema Studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Alabama (USA), where he teaches 19th and 20th-century French Civilization and World Films. His publications encompass a broad range of literary and cultural topics, a book on Stendhal, Variations sur le titre “Le Rouge et le Noir”(Droz), a book on Jewish Identity in French Cinema (Cambridge Scholars Publishing), essays on the theory of Titles, the law of Gender Equity, Liberty versus Equality, and on novelist Paul Nizan. His contributions to film studies include articles on Jewish identity in French cinema and films of Stanley Kubrick. He co-produced the award winning 58-minute documentary Léon Blum: for all Mankind, distributed by First Run Pictures, and wrote and narrated the short film Les Rois de l’eau. Dr. Bokobza was awarded Les Palmes académiques by the French government and the Prix d’excellence by the AATF (Alabama). He chaired the UAB Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures from 2011 to 2014 and has served as president of the Alliance française of Birmingham since 1984.

Date: Saturday, November 12, 2016
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free

Alliance Française of Birmingham & UAB Department of Foreign Languages invite the Public to a lecture in English by Yves Moñino, PhD. Emeritus, LLACAN, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris France.

State Doctor of the Paris V Sorbonne University. Research Director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (National Center of Scientific Research), 2003-2012. Ethnolinguist at the “Language, Languages and Cultures of Black Africa”, Laboratory of the National Center for Scientific Research in France, and specialist in languages and civilizations of Central Africa and the two Congos. He has been working since 1993 on the Creole language of San Basilio de Palenque. He published seven books and over fifty articles on these topics. It is one of the top ten world experts in Palenque.

Dr. Moñino’s website: http://llacan.vjf.cnrs.fr/p_monino.php

Date: Friday, October 7, 2016
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free

Alliance Française of Birmingham & UAB Department of Foreign Languages invite the Public to a lecture in English by Bob Burns, Architect.

“One Thousand Years of French Architecture:
from the Romanesque to the Future”

Crypt, The Panthéon, Paris,1758, Jacques-Germain Soufflot

There is a language of architecture and that language is largely French. Century after century, great architecture in France has addressed the powerful new ideas of the times. French architects and builders from Suger de Saint-Denis to Le Corbusier have opened new vistas for their societies. In this presentation we will translate the architectural grammar of French works of architecture and seek to see these buildings, in part, as they were seen when they were built. Hundreds of images will tell the story and enduring themes will emerge.

Bob Burns is a local architect recognized for distinguished service by the Alabama State Historic Commission. A longtime student of architectural history, Mr. Burns maintains that great architecture should be seen directly, while walking and standing in its presence, but that learning about buildings helps us see them in new ways, and to understand their messages more clearly. Most of the architectural projects discussed in this presentation are familiar and easily accessible for visitors to Paris.

Date: Saturday, April 23, 2016
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free

Alliance Française of Birmingham & UAB Department of Foreign Languages & UAB Department of Government invite the Public to a lecture in English by Fariba Hachtroudi.

“Women and Islam”

Hachtroudi was born in 1951 in Tehran. She comes from a family of scholars and professors. Her paternal grand-father was a religious leader who supported the constitutionalists in 1906, against other religious leaders who advocated for governance by Sharia law and the absolute rule of God as a monarchic authority. Fariba’s father Mohsen Hachtroudi was a learned scholar, often called the “Ommar Khayyam” of contemporary Iran. As a well known French-educated mathematician, philosopher and poet, Mr Hachtroudi was unquestionably considered to be a moral authority for generations of Iranians. Hachtroudi fought his entire life for the promotion of democracy, social justice (most notably women rights) and secularism. Fariba’s mother, Robab Hachtroudi was a professor of humanities and Persian literature.

Fariba Hachtroudi received her doctorate (PHD) in art and archeology in Paris in 1978. She lived in Sri Lanka from 1981 to 1983, where for two years she taught at the University of Colombo while performing research on the Teravada Boudhism.
When Fariba returned to France in 1983, she started, as a journalist, to denounce Khomeynism. In 1985 / 1986, to understand the daily life of her compatriots, Fariba travelled clandestinely to Iran by way of the desert of Baluchistan.

L’Exilée, Hachtroudi’s first book describes her haunting journey. Ten years later, in 1995, Fariba who was much more pessimistic than others, already predicting change and revival “slowly and from within Iran”, decided again to approach the issue by creating a humanitarian association free of political affiliations. MoHa, the association for the foundation of Mohsen Hachtroudi, focuses it work on education and secularism – conditions essential for the respects of women’s rights and the promotion of democracy. MoHa helped Iranians refugees wherever they were. After her last trip to Iran (2006) Fariba Hachtroudi hopes to be able to register her Foundation in Iran in order to help the youth inside the country as it was the goal of her father.

Publications of Fariba Hachtroudi:
L’exilée. Novel. 1991. Payot.
Demain un Iran Laïque? 1999. Revue Panoramique.
Iran, les Rives du Sang. 2000. Seuil. (Awarded the Littérature Prize of Human Rights in october 2001. The
prize was presented to the author by the president of the French National Assembly, Mr.Raymond Forny, at a ceremony before the National Assembly.)
Les femmes Iraniennes : 25 ans d’inquisition islamique. Hydre Edition. 2004.
Le Chili sur les Traces de Neruda (with the photographer Laurent Péters), Travel book. 2005. Seuil.
J’ai épousé Johnny à Notre Dame de Sion. Novel. 2006. Seuil.
A mon Retour d’Iran. Testimony. 2007. Seuil.
Khomeyni express. Document. April 2009. Xenia.
Le douzième imam est une femme. Novel. May 2009. Koutoubia

Date: Saturday, February 20, 2016
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free
Reception: TBA

Alliance Française of Birmingham, UAB Jemison Lecture Funds, UAB Department of English, UAB Department of Philosophy, & UAB Department of Sociology invite the Public to a Lecture in English by Julien Suaudeau, Filmmaker and Novelist, author of Dawa and Le Français.

“Who are the Jihadists in Syria”

Julien Suaudeau started his career as a consultant for the French Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan. In Paris, he went on to become a film critic for the French film magazine, Positif, and a consultant for documentaries on current affairs. In 2004, he directed his first feature documentary, Il était une fois en Côte d’Ivoire (“Once Upon a Time in the Ivory Coast”), which aired in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Canada. This debut was followed by two other documentaries, Derrière les cordes (Behind the Ropes), and American Dreamers, as well as by three short fiction films, Une pierre au cœur (The Stone Heart), and Un an et un jour (A Year and a Day).

In 2014, Mr. Suaudeau became a French teacher in the school district of Haddonfield, NJ. He also released his debut novel, Dawa, an Arabic word meaning invitation, which is also the name of Saudi Arabia’s Department of Religious Affairs, in charge of supporting the spreading of Islam around the world. In modern French street slang, dawa means chaos, mayhem. Dawa tells the story of an Islamic terrorist plot in Paris, nine months prior to the Charlie Hebdo attack.

In August 2015, Dawa was followed by Le Français (The Frenchman), the story of a naive country boy who, through a dubious set of circumstances, turns into an ISIS executioner in Syria. Le Français has been unanimously praised by French literary critics, and confirmed Mr. Suaudeau’s standing as one of the most promising voices in contemporary French literature.

Date: Saturday, January 30, 2016
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free

Winter, Spring and Fall 2015

Alliance Française of Birmingham & UAB Department of Foreign Languages invites the Public to a lecture in English by Dr. Serge Bokobza, Associate Professor of French, UAB.

“Léon Blum: Prime Minister of France, Socialist and Zionist,” followed by the screening of Léon Blum: For All Mankind directed by Jean Bodon, and produced by Jean Bodon and Serge Bokobza.

The lecture is an overview of Blum’s remarkable life and the making of the film. Blum (1872-1950) was both the most hated and loved French politician of the first half of the twentieth-century. He participated in the Dreyfus Affair, WWI, the Popular Front, WWII, the Libération, and the creation of the State of Israel. He was a man of letters, rubbing elbows with the likes of Proust and Gide, and wrote a book on Stendhal whose energy he greatly admired. He was a socialist, an heir of Jean Jaurès, and also of Clémenceau.

The film examines the life of the former three-time Prime Minister of France who was imprisoned in the infamous Buchenwald concentration camp during World War II. Blum is best known by his countrymen for introducing labor reforms, including the 40-hour workweek, increased wages, and two-week paid vacations for workers in 1936 during the “Popular Front.” Blum’s Jewish heritage and socialist ideology made him a target for the Nazis, and in 1943 he was deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany where he remained imprisoned for two years. Hitler used Blum as a hostage for a possible future bargain chip. After his release, Blum headed France’s provisional government from 1946-1947 and negotiated a U.S. loan to France for post-war reconstruction.

Serge Bokobza, PhD, is Associate Professor of French and Cinema Studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he teaches 19th and 20th-century French Civilization and World Films. His publications encompass a broad range of literary and cultural topics. His contributions to film studies include articles on Jewish identity in French cinema and films of Stanley Kubrick. Dr. Bokobza was awarded Les Palmes académiques by the French government and the Prix d’excellence by the Alabama chapter of AATF. Teaching at UAB since 1980, he has served as president of the Alliance française of Birmingham since 1984.

Date: Saturday, October 24, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free

Alliance Française of Birmingham & the Birmingham Museum of Art invites the Public to a tour in English of “Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries”

(http://www.artsbma.org/exhibition/small-treasures-rembrandt-vermeer-hals-and-their-contemporaries/)

The tour will be conducted by AF member and BMA docent, Regina Smith

Date: Saturday, April 11, 2015
Time: 3:00 PM
Location: Birmingham Museum of Art, Jemison Galleries
(2000 Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd. Birmingham, AL)

Admission: $12.00 regular admission, $10.00 senior admission, Free for BMA members

Alliance Française of Birmingham & UAB Department of Foreign Languages invites the Public to a lecture in English by Jody Coombs, a Piano instructor at the Conservatory of Fine and Performing Arts at Birmingham-Southern College.

“Impressionism & Symbolism Artistic trends in fin de siècle Paris and their influence on the music of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel”.

Jody Coombs will present lecture/performance that will explore how the artistic trends of turn of the century Paris influenced the great French composers, Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.

Date: Saturday, February 28, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free

Alliance Française of Birmingham & UAB Department of Foreign Languages invites the Public to a lecture in English by Tom Gordon, Jr., a former reporter for The Birmingham News and former editor and reporter for The Anniston Star.

“Following the Footsteps of My Father”

Tom Gordon’s presentation will focus on how his own attachment to France and the French language led him some years ago to a villa named Les Rives d’Or, near the Riviera city of Saint-Raphaël, where his late father, Tom Gordon, Sr., then a young Army lieutenant, disarmed German mines in August 1944.

In April 2010, the family that owns the villa gave a party in honor of these brave deeds and a plaque bearing Tom’s fathers’s name is on the outside of the villa. Tom says, “I consider that experience one of the highlights of my life, but I do not think it would have happened if I had not lived for a time in France and sought to learn the French language.”

Date: Saturday, January 31, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free

Winter, Spring and Fall 2014

Alliance Française of Birmingham & UAB Department of Foreign Languages invites the Public to a lecture in English by Sean Finnigan (photographer).

“Haiti – Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow”

A presentation about Haiti’s history and culture by Sean Finnigan, a British photographer who lived for 3 decades in the island compiling an extensive collection of images of the people and their culture.

Haiti in the 1970s, when many of Mr. Finnigan’s photos were taken, was unique in the Caribbean: an island in time as well as space, still to a large extent cut off from the world. A melting pot of African heritages and religions superficially influenced by Europe and America, tempered by years of isolation, by poverty, slavery and illiteracy. A rich hybrid culture marked by the extraordinary heritage of a slave people who had become the first Black Republic in the West. It was a world, a time that is forever gone.

Date: Saturday, November 22, 2014
Time: 7:00-8:30 PM
Location: UAB Heritage Hall, Room 104
(Corner of University Blvd. and 14th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free

Alliance Française of Birmingham & UAB Department of Foreign Languages invites the Public to a lecture in English by Fredéric Gros, Professor of Political Philosophy at the Université de Paris-Est Créteil and at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po Paris).

“A Philosphy of Walking”

La marche à pied peut-elle être comprise comme une pratique philosophique ? Les longues promenades, les randonnées interminables, ou même la flânerie dans les rues des grandes villes peuvent être considérés comme des exercices spirituels ou des invitations à penser. Certains grands philosophes ne s’y sont pas trompés : Rousseau, Nietzsche, Thoreau ont écrit ce que leur oeuvre devait à leurs marches quotidiennes : une inspiration élargie, une disponibilité supérieure, une liberté sans limites. L’expérience de la marche, activité pourtant si humble et quotidienne, permet de donner un sens unique à des problèmes majeurs de la philosophie : le corps et l’espace, le temps et l’éternité, la lenteur et la répétition. C’est une initiation aux secrets spirituels de la marche que nous proposons.

A Philosphy of Walking
Could walking be viewed as a philosophical practice? Long walks, endless hikes, or even stroll in big cities streets can be considered spiritual exercises or open invitations for meditation. Rousseau, Nietzsche, Thoreau all wrote that their writing owed much to their daily walks: a broader inspiration, a superior readiness, a sense of freedom without limits. The practice of walking, though a very humble one, nurtures an original sensibility to major philosophical problems: body and space, time and eternity, slowness and repetition. In his talk, Frédéric Gros offers insight into the spiritual secrets of walking and how it manifests on paper.

Date: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free

Alliance Française of Birmingham & UAB Department of Foreign Languages invites the Public to a Reading and Book Signing in English by Sena Jeter Naslund.

Sena Jeter Naslund presents a reading, commentary, and slides of work by the notable 18th Century French portraitist, Elisabeth Vigée-Le Brun, the favorite portrait painter of Marie-Antoinette. You may have met Elisabeth before, for Naslund introduces the beautiful and talented young painter in her earlier book, Abundance, A Novel of Marie-Antoinette. Translated into Spanish, Danish, Polish, Greek, and Hebrew that novel received top ratings by both People magazine and Entertainment Weekly. Publishers Weekly wrote in a starred review “With vivid detail and exquisite narrative technique, Naslund exemplifies the best of historical fiction.”

Now in her most recent novel, The Fountain of St. James Court; or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman Naslund revisits the renowned painter as an old woman looking back on a life fully lived as a triumphant artist. A novel-within-a-novel, Naslund’s new book is set partly in 18th century France and partly in the contemporary United States. Today Vigée-Le Brun’s works can be viewed in the Louvre, the Hermitage, the New York Metropolitan Museum, the National Gallery of London, the National Gallery of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC and many other top museums.

Author Sena Jeter Naslund is a native of Birmingham, and a graduate of Norwood Elementary, Phillips High School, and Birmingham-Southern College. She holds the Ph.D. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.This is her ninth book, many of them, such as Ahab’s Wife and Four Spirits have been critically acclaimed and national bestsellers. She is program director of the Spalding University brief-residency MFA in Writing and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Louisville.

Date: Saturday, February 8, 2014
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free

Spring and Fall 2013

UAB Department of Foreign Languages & The Alliance Française of Birmingham invites you to “Commemorate Proust’s Centennial Work”.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Alliance Française of Birmingham will commemorate the centennial anniversary of the publication of Swann’s Way, the first volume of French writer Marcel Proust’s classic, In Search of Lost Time, with a series of movies around Proust’s work starting November 18 through November 22, 2013.

All movies will be shown at UAB University Blvd Office Building (UBOB), 1201 University Blvd (corner of University Blvd and 13th Street South) at 7:00 pm. All movies are in English or with English subtitles. Introductions by Dr. William C. Carter and Dr. Serge Bokobza.

Monday, November 18, 2013
Céleste (1981) , directed by Percy Adlon, with Eva Mattes, Jürgen Arndt.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Swann in Love (1985), directed by Volker Schlondorff, with Jeremy Irons, Ornella Muti, Alain Delon.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
La Captive (2000), directed by Chantal Ackerman, with Stanislas Merhar, Sylvie Testud, Olivia Bonamy.

Thursday, November 21, 2013
Le Temps retrouvé (1999), directed by Raoul Ruiz, with Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Béart, John Malkovitch, Vincent Perez.

Friday, November 22, 2013
Marcel Proust: A Writer’s Life (1993), documentary directed by William C. Carter.

Saturday, November 23, 2013
Lecture by William C. Carter

Alliance Française of Birmingham & UAB Department of Foreign Languages invites the Public to a Reading and Book Signing in English by Harriet Welty Rochefort.

“Joie de Vivre”

Join us for an evening of sparkling joie de vivre with Harriet Welty Rochefort, an American bi-national who has lived in France for four decades with her “very French” husband, and is the author of three books about the French: French Toast, French Fried, and her latest, Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining, and Romancing Like the French (St. Martin’s Press 2012) which she is happy to present to Alliance Française members in Birmingham.

For Welty Rochefort, it’s clear that the French possess a unique gift for injecting joie de vivre in every aspect of their lives. Men and women openly look at each other in the streets and if no one looks, well, better to die. At French dinner parties, the guests not only wine and dine divinely but thrive on lively conversation about vacations, the latest art exhibitions, and films, and even and especially controversial topics, but never, never business and money which is considered both boring and vulgaire. In France, « small is good », whether it’s the little black dress or a teeny cup of expresso. The French revel in the moment, appreciate the time spent in making and enjoying a perfect feast, pay attention to the slightest detail, whether flowers on the table or a knockout accessory on a simple outfit, and work hard when not enjoying their (considerable) leisure time without an ounce of guilt. Their joie de vivre can come where you least expect it : For the French it’s better to have a chagrin d’amour than no amour at all, and to paraphrase Pasteur’s « a day without wine is a day without sunshine », for the Frenchman a day without discord is a day without a kick. They have fun (yes, fun !) when they fuss and feud, squabble and shrug.

When it comes to savoir-faire, savoir-vivre, and joie de vivre, the author is convinced the French are unbeatable. When it comes to being paradoxical, they’re equally gifted: the French have been known to elevate the word « rude » to new heights, but they are the most polite people in the world – when they want to be. Welty Rochefort chose to live in France because she knew that she would escape ennui – and she did. With good humor and genuine affection for the prickly, paradoxical, and pleasure-seeking Gauls, she takes the reader on her own personal journey through the often byzantine French mindset, showing how joie de vivre permeates their way of life, precisely because in France there’s no « pursuit of happiness ». Fortunately, in France, she discovered that you don’t have to « pursue » happiness. It pursues you.

The author of Joie observes that “there have been so many books about the French that I think I should distinguish mine from the rest of the pack. I think that the insider view coming from four decades of total immersion in French life (French husband, in-laws, children who have attended French schools, the speaking of French at home and basically all the time) is what gives my books their unique insight.” She says she remains as American as apple pie but explains in Joie how, through her love of France and sheer osmosis, she did indeed become “a little bit French”. To learn more about Harriet Welty Rochefort and her writing you may visit her websites at www.harrietweltyrochefort.com or www.understandfrance.org

Copies of Joie de Vivre will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

Date: Friday, October 11, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free

Alliance Française of Birmingham & UAB Department of Foreign Languages invites the Public to a Lecture in English by Dr. William C. Carter (University Distinguished Professor Emeritus at UAB & Proust Biographer).

“Proust: A Centenary Tribute”

Dr. Carter will talk about why Marcel Proust’s novel “A la recherche du temps perdu” is considered one of the great works of all time and how it continues to live in both popular culture and in the academy. He will also include a bit about why we need a new, annotated edition for readers of Proust for the readers of the next century.

From Yale University Press:
The year 2013 marks the centennial of two of the most significant moments in the history of Modernism: the celebrated Armory Show that introduced New Yorkers to modern art, and, later the same year, the publication in Paris of Swann’s Way, the first volume of Marcel Proust’s masterpiece À la recherche du temps perdu (initially retitled Remembrance of Things Past in its first English translation and now known as In Search of Lost Time).

Regarded as the greatest novel in all of French literature, In Search of Lost Time is also, for many readers, the single greatest novel of the twentieth century. Now, Yale University Press is pleased to announce that William C. Carter—whose Marcel Proust: A Life and Proust in Love prompted Harold Bloom to declare him “Proust’s definitive biographer”—has drawn on his accumulated wisdom and insight to create a landmark edition of this supreme work of literary genius. Newly revised and, for the first time, annotated, Swann’s Way, the first volume of In Search of Lost Time, will appear in fall 2013, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the book’s original publication in Nov. 1913.

Why a new edition?
With the knowledge of a lifetime spent studying Proust’s life and writings, Carter has carefully assessed and critiqued the various English-language translations of À la recherche du temps perdu and recognized both the strengths and weaknesses of the original English translation by C.K. Scott Moncrieff. He has also discovered the extent to which subsequent revisions to Moncrieff’s work have, in their attempts to address certain weaknesses, introduced copious new problems and strayed, sometimes subtly and sometimes glaringly, much farther from Proust’s original than most English-language readers could have ever guessed.

Thus Yale’s edition of In Search of Lost Time will present the Moncrieff translation as revised by Carter, who preserves Moncrieff’s brilliant overall achievement and corrects missteps in ways that do not undermine or overrule Proust but instead bring readers closer to Proust’s intentions—and sublime artistry—than ever before.

Yale’s edition will also feature Carter’s annotations, which provide illuminating notes and clari- fications regarding the biographical, historical, and social contexts of Proust’s masterpiece. Presented in a handsome, reader-friendly format alongside the text, the annotations appear as an unobtrusive complement that will enrich and deepen the reader’s understanding, utilizing a page design based on Yale’s critically acclaimed annotated editions of the works of Henry David Thoreau edited by Jeffrey Cramer. (Yale will also publish its fourth such volume of Thoreau, Essays, in May 2013.)
Proust 2013

The Yale edition of Swann’s Way will be preceded, in March 2013, by the reissue in paperback of William C. Carter’s monumental Marcel Proust: A Life, with a new preface by the author. Hailed as a “Notable Book of 2000” by the New York Times, a “Best Book of 2000” by the Los Angeles Times, and one of the “Best Biographies of 2000” by the Sunday Times of London, the book is regarded by many as the definitive work on its subject. (Carter’s critically acclaimed shorter work, Proust in Love—which Harold Bloom called “a marvelous study of the comic splendor of the great novelist’s vision of human eros and its discontents” and Publishers Weekly hailed as “a warmly sympathetic portrait”—will remain available as well.)

Swann’s Way, as the first volume of the annotated In Search of Lost Time, will follow in the fall, with subsequent volumes of the Yale annotated edition to be added annually.
With this landmark definitive new edition of Proust’s masterpiece, Yale will celebrate the 2013 Proustian anniversary in a manner that promises to benefit and delight readers for generations to come.

Date: Saturday, April 13, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free
Reception: Home of Mme Melinda Shallcross

Alliance Française of Birmingham & UAB Department of Foreign Languages invites the Public to a Booksigning and Lecture in English by Debbie Ambrous (Writer & Blogger).

“Travel With Humor”

Debbie Ambrous is from Opp, Alabama, a unique town that was the setting for her childhood dreams of traveling. A French-shuttered house in Opp with window boxes and a swing in the garden is home now. She lived in Florida most of her life, along with husband Jim who she claims is “directionally challenged, but still finds the important things in life plus most of the places on the map, given enough time.” They have three children, a lovely granddaughter, and a precious grandson is on the way.

Debbie shares the influence of her father’s humor on her travel and writing. She says, “The Grand Ole Opry with Minnie Pearl and Grandpa Jones shaped my father’s humor in a gentle way with recognition of a universal love for smiles and laughter. Humor paves the road, carries us across the hurtful times in life and the awkward moments in travel.”

A painful, learning experience almost ended her writing when it was just beginning. Years passed until she found her love of travel writing with France central and foremost. She shares the excitement and challenge of traveling alone in France, and then the wonderful joy of staying with her husband Jim in a 17th-century farmhouse in the Loire, then owned by a remarkable lady from Alabama. Traveling further to the Dordogne region of France she says she found a cluster of farmhouses called La Prairie in an area that reminded her of the Smoky Mountains. Finally, she faces “A French Opportunity” of having her own place, and she realizes that she probably wanted this from the first day she set foot in France.

Debbie invites you to enjoy following her journeys, seeing beautiful scenes from her travels and reading entertaining, personal anecdotes at: www.AFrenchOpportunity.com. Debbie will have copies of her book available at the lecture for purchase and signing.

Date: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: 105 HULSEY RECITAL HALL
(950 13th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294)
Admission: Free

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