The AIZEN team would like to report that our association has experienced two very productive and eventful years: a very successful conference, plans for the next one, changes in status and honors for our members, many recent publications, the construction of a new web site, and a different format for our scholarly journal, Excavatio. We invite you to read and enjoy! Hopefully, you will be inspired to join us in our future ventures.
AIZEN/University of New Orleans International Conference on Émile Zola and Naturalism: March 6-8, 2014, New Orleans, USA
University Center, UNO
This conference took place just after the coldest Mardi Gras since 1899, but the city and the entire region are celebrating at this time of year, whatever the weather! Arriving from the New Orleans Airport, many of us had to wend our way around traffic and roadblocks to avoid local parades in the suburbs. And the parades some of us did witness just before and on actual Mardi Gras – Proteus, for example, Zulu, and Rex – were magnificent artistic and theatrical displays of joyous generosity and goodwill, even in the rain. The pulse in the French Quarter, and especially on Bourbon Street, quickens to a crescendo during this season, with saxophones, trombones and trumpets blaring from the bars and revelers swaying down the sidewalks. The restaurants are full to bursting as diners crowd around tables to order mint-juleps, followed by crawfish étuvé, seafood gumbo or Cajun blackened catfish, to be washed down later in a bar with absinthe. This is the New Orleans scene during Mardi Gras season, but the city’s history is also fascinating – with tales of French origins, Spanish governance, pirates, sugar-cane plantation families with apartments on Bourbon street, duels, slaves sold and freed, including those coming from Haiti with their “joie de vivre” and Voodoo practices, American statehood, paddle-wheel steamers and barges on the Mississippi, sugar refineries, elegant white-columned mansions, shotgun houses, etc. This example of francophonie à l’américaine was the perfect place for a gathering of scholars of Zola and naturalism coming from all over the world, many from elsewhere in the francophone world − which is recognized in the month of March.
Rainy Mardi Gras, New Orleans
Mardi Gras, New Orleans
Before the turn of the twentieth century there were, amazingly enough, French literary circles in New Orleans with connections to France and even writers interested in Zola’s “naturalist school.” For this reason also, it was important for the AIZEN to join with the University of New Orleans and hold its International Conference on Émile Zola and Naturalism in this city. We are especially indebted to Juliana Starr, Associate Professor of French at the University of New Orleans and Co-Organizer-in-Chief of this conference, who took the steps at her university to bring the AIZEN conference to its doors. We are grateful to Dr. Kevin Graves, Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, who offered his unconditional support from the start, inviting us to the Lakefront Campus of the University of New Orleans and to the spacious and beautiful facilities on the second floor of the University Center, and hosting this event. Anna Gural-Migdal, President of the AIZEN, and Professor Starr worked together with the gracious support of Eliza M. Ghil, Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages, to realize their ideas as to the intellectual content of the conference and the accompanying cultural events. Thank you also to Peggy Gaffney, Assistant Dean and Director of Diversity Affairs, Anthony Cipolone, Assistant Dean for Budget and Technology, Jennifer Miguez, Executive Coordinator for Operations and Events, and Susan Krantz, Former Dean, for their support and their role in bringing this project to completion.
Anna Gural-Migdal and Juliana Starr at the University Center
The AIZEN/UNO collaboration was highly successful in achieving our association’s goal of stimulating high calibre multidisciplinary and comparative research in the areas of Zola and naturalism, since this highly respected academic institution and major research university offers specializations in various areas of the arts, some of them unique: Jazz Studies, a top-30 Film School, a Center Austria, and interdisciplinary programs such as Urban Studies in the Department of History, Women’s Studies in the Department of English, and Romance Languages in the Department of Foreign Languages. About one hundred participants came from nineteen countries and four different continents – the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia – to present papers and enter into meaningful and probing discussions. Specifically, the conference-goers came from universities in the US, Japan, Norway, Finland, Turkey, Brazil, Portugal, Austria, West Bank, China, Germany, India, and England, in addition to Francophone countries such as France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Tunisia, and Senegal.
The papers presented at this conference were of remarkable intellectual quality. An interdisciplinary and open forum, the AIZEN promotes a new sense of naturalism in progress, through the porous boundaries of the naturalist text, subsequently being transformed and absorbed into new texts and contexts. Since the study of naturalism in its regional context, through inclusion of writers representative of the local host culture, is an important research goal of the AIZEN’s international conferences, New Orleans, the American South, and the United States, in general, were a focus of this conference and, in particular, their connections with Zola and naturalism. For example, some novels by the most famous Creole naturalist writer in the French language, Alfred Mercier, were discussed in the light of his views on social justice, bringing to mind scenarios typical of this part of the US: the plantation economy with its slavery, the Mississippi River and the cultural and linguistic ferment developing along its shores, as it reaches the Gulf of Mexico. Florence M. Jumonville, Librarian responsible for the Louisiana and Special Collections Department at the UNO Library, created an exhibit especially for the conference on books published in French in New Orleans including those by Alfred Mercier during the turn-of-the-twentieth-century period. Another interesting topic discussed during the conference in connection with Louisiana was the reception of the Dreyfus Affair in New Orleans. Louisiana in the present-day was featured as well in a session titled “Naturalism and Neo-Naturalism Made in Louisiana,” with studies of TV shows and flood stories, recalling the recent Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, with a link to a lesser-known short text by Zola, L’Inondation.
Furthermore, the cultural program of the conference brought the local culture to conference-goers in a concrete way. Juliana Starr, who initiated a call for submissions to a photo contest on the theme of “Southern Women at Work,” organized and presided the Opening Cocktail at the UNO Fine Arts Gallery. Attendees were able to view an exhibit of the entries, while partaking of wine and elaborate hors-d’œuvres, some featuring local seafood and including a special cake in Mardi Gras colours yellow, purple and green, with live jazz music in the background. The winner of the contest was Gaiten Howard, a student at UNO, whose photo of African-American hairdressers in her hometown provided a personal dimension to Southern culture for conference participants from all over the world. Many thanks to Ariya Martin, Artist in Residence and Director of the UNO Fine Arts Gallery, for adjudicating the contest, and Olivier Bourderionnet, AIZEN Local Organizer, for his work with the jazz ensemble. The Naturalist Film Festival featured post-Katrina New Orleans in Low and Behold (2007), a film made by Louisianan filmmaker Zack Godshall. We thank Justine Huet, Assistant to the AIZEN, for her penetrating commentary on this film and for leading out in the lively discussion that followed in the UNO Performing Arts Center, Robert E. Nims Theatre. A big thank you goes to Hamp Overton, AIZEN Local Organizer, for arranging this event and the projection of the film, besides insuring the smooth functioning of all things technological during the entire conference.
Juliana Starr presents the First Prize to winner of photo contest “Southern Women at Work”
Olivier Bourderionnet’s jazz ensemble
Two special focal points of this conference were American naturalist women writers and Austrian naturalism and these corresponded to our two plenary sessions, on the first and second days of the conference, featuring guest speakers who specialize in these areas. Our invited guest, Donna M. Campbell, Professor of American Literature at Washington State University (USA) and well-known specialist in American Naturalism, made a presentation titled “Bitter Tastes: Why Women Writers Aren’t Recognized as Naturalists,” in which she outlined who these writers were and addressed the difficulty they encountered in becoming full-fledged members of the naturalist movement. To support this keynote presentation there were panels on naturalist women writers linked to the American South – Kate Chopin, Zora Neale Hurston, and Willa Cather. And there were presentations on other American writers connected to naturalism, such as Edith Wharton, Constance Fenimoore Woolson, Frank Norris, Jack London, Henry James, William Dean Howells, Hamlin Garland, Theodore Dreiser, and Stephen Crane. Our Special thanks to Keith Newlin, for organizing a panel titled “American Literary Naturalism.”
Donna M. Campbell, Special Guest
Our honoured guest, Karl Zieger, affiliated with the Centre Zola – ITEM/CNRS in Paris and Professor of Comparative Literature at the Université Charles de Gaulle-Lille III (France), is an internationally known scholar whose research deals with the literary and historical relationships between Austrian and France, and specifically the reception of the Dreyfus Affair in Austria and connections between French and Austrian naturalism. He gave a paper entitled “Les origines du naturalisme en Autriche: de la réception de l’œuvre de Zola à la ‘face cachée’ de ‘Vienne fin-de-siècle’,” providing an enlightening overview of the fortune of naturalism in Austria before and just after the turn of the twentieth century. Thanks go to Anna Gural-Migdal, for organizing a panel on Austrian naturalism and Neo-naturalism in literature and film, beginning with fin-de-siècle naturalist writers Ferdinand von Saar, moving on to early twentieth-century writer Hermann Broch, and finishing with Nobel prize-winner Elfriede Jelinek, Lilian Faschinger, and recent Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Haneke − a session which benefitted greatly from Professor Karl Zieger’s expertise and interventions.
Karl Zieger, Honoured Guest
Given that the AIZEN’s mandate is centered on Émile Zola, there were a record number of excellent sessions on Zola and Naturalism in France, from which worldwide naturalism emanates. The conference featured a session on the Médan group and a panel organized by Kristin Cook-Gailloud on the theoretical bases of naturalism: “Le Roman expérimental in Europe and America.” Other sessions emphasized themes such as the rural and the urban, working women, solitude, the sublime and the grotesque, in the Rougon-Macquart and other novels, some of them in comparative studies with naturalist texts from other cultures, and American culture in particular. We thank Elisabeth-Christine Muelsch for organizing “The Representation of Working-Class Women in The Rougon-Macquart” and Céline Brossillon, for putting together a panel on “Zola, Naturalism, and Solitude in Nineteenth-Century French Novels.”
The area of film has always been important to the AIZEN, with its tradition of the Naturalist Film Festival and because naturalism is a key aesthetic and theoretical category in film studies. At this conference there were two sessions specifically devoted to naturalist film. We thank Robert Singer, Vice-President of the AIZEN, for challenging our sensibilities with the panel he organized titled “Radical Naturalism” and hats off also to Juliana Starr for organizing a panel on “Naturalism in Contemporary American and World Cinema,” with the special participation of colleagues in Film Studies from the University of New Orleans and with a presentation on naturalist filmic devices, a first foray for the AIZEN into the technical aspects of cinematic naturalism. Moreover there was a major interdisciplinary session offering an innovative approach to film adaptations of naturalist texts.
Panel: Naturalism in Contemporary American and World Cinema
From left: Laura J. Medina, Laszlo Fulop, and Hamp Hoverton from the University of New Orleans
Another unique dimension of this conference was a number of papers covering a range of prose, literary, and art forms touched on by Zola and naturalism: literary and art theory, non-fiction, correspondence, poetry, theatre, television, song, and caricature. With regard to this latter, we thank historian Agnès Sandras, the AIZEN’s first conference participant from the Bibliothèque nationale de France, for her presentation featuring rare caricatures from the special collections of this prestigious library. Photography’s connection to naturalism was also emphasized – another first for the AIZEN and very appropriate considering Zola’s deep interest in the newly developing art form. In this regard, we thank Jeanne Campbell Reesman for her sharing of Jack London’s photos and her participation, as a representative of the Jack London Society. Photography was also discussed through daguerreotype and its use in the slave trade in 1850s Boston and photographic techniques used in the context of post-Apartheid South Africa. And we were privileged to welcome Jean-Sébastien Macke, as a representative from the Centre Zola, ITEM/CNRS (France), who brought an up-to-the-minute report on the latest strategies for archiving visual and written information on Zola and naturalism in the digital age, and making it available to the public.
Jean-Sébastien Macke, as a representative from the Centre Zola, ITEM/CNRS (France)
Three excursions at the end of the conference underscored yet again the unique culture of our surroundings and allowed participants to reinforce bonds developed during the conference. The traditional AIZEN Naturalist Banquet took on the form of an evening dinner cruise on a paddle-wheel steamer up the Mississippi River, with more live jazz music and seafood for conference-goers to enjoy while watching the twinkling lights of the city. Early the next morning, some of us took a walking tour of the French Quarter, stopping to sing with a lone guitarist on our way to meet the tour guide. We saw the churchyard where duels were fought with swords, the balcony where Tennessee Williams sat and watched the streetcar named “Desire” pass by, the historic restaurant Antoine’s, where people have been dining since 1840 – and the markets where slaves were once bought and sold. In the afternoon many made a foray into the Louisiana countryside, with a visit to the Laura Plantation, where a dynasty of French settlers grew acres and acres of sugarcane with the help of about one hundred slaves. This insight into the lives of ante-bellum agricultural entrepreneurs, with stories of elegant parties in the main house and a peek into the rough cabins of the workers, brought home in a poignant way the importance of Zola’s struggle against injustice.
Naturalist Dinner Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez
AIZEN Organizing Committee. From left: Carolyn Snipes-Hoyt, Anna Gural-Migdal, Justine Huet, Robert Singer, and Juliana Starr
The joint International AIZEN/University of Debrecen Conference in 2017
We are pleased to announce that the next international AIZEN conference will be jointly sponsored and organized with the University of Debrecen, in Hungary. Titled “Zola, Mirbeau and Naturalism,ˮ the conference will be held from June 8 to 10, 2017. On June 11, there will be an excursion that will last the entire day.
Since the year 2017 will mark the centenary of Octave Mirbeau’s passing, and since this now fully recognized late nineteenth-century writer’s career ran completely parallel to Zola’s − journalism, art criticism, literature, drama, and involvement in the Dreyfus Affair −, it seems appropriate to celebrate their life work simultaneously at this conference. In fact, Mirbeau was orginally connected to the Médan Group, led by Zola. In spite of their aesthetic differences, Mirbeau admired Zola as a man of talent and courage. By 1897, he had become part of the group of intellectuals examining the situation of Alfred Dreyfus with Zola, and Mirbeau went so far as to pay the fine imposed on Zola as a penalty for publishing J’accuse…
At this conference, more emphasis will be placed on what brings these two authors together, than on what separates them. Reflection will thus be encouraged on the conception of naturalism itself. Both held a common desire to renew the theatre, so that it would be more closely connected to contemporary life. Both were very much engaged with current issues, as well as the struggles for acceptance of contemporary painters.
The international conference will be one of a series of commemorative events marking the centenary of Octave Mirbeau’s death for which the initiative has been encouraged by the Société Octave Mirbeau, and its president Pierre Michel, to celebrate the author’s life. The conference will be held in Hungary, in order to take stock of the European scope of the influence of these two authors, especially through the study of the dissemination and the reception of their writing in Central Europe. At the same time, this will be an opportunity to underscore the impact of naturalism on authors and other artists in this cosmopolitan cultural space and put forward the local dimension of their works.
A number of suggestions have been made for panels or special sessions in the Call for Papers, and details can be found at this link: http://www.ualberta.ca/~aizen/events/index.html
Professors, researchers, lecturers, and doctoral students are invited to submit proposals for papers, but also invited to organize, with other colleagues, sessions or panels having to do with the respectives works of Zola and Mirbeau, or dealing with the latter in connection with European naturalism, including comparative or interdisciplinary studies. Papers about Zola and/or Mirbeau in relationship to the Médan Group, naturalism, the press, the theatre, the visual arts, correspondance, or the Dreyfus Affair will be most welcome. And since both of these authors made use of a variety of media, we would like to encourage specialists in media to explore trans-mediatic aspects of their output, or the response of the contemporary public to these authors’ works, which often transgressed the norms of civil society.
We also solicit papers on Central European writers or filmmakers who may have been influenced by Zola or Mirbeau, or could be considered naturalist or neo-naturalist from the angles of regionalism, cosmopolitanism, or marginalization, for example (Central Europe includes Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein). We will discover Hungary in particular, located in a part of Europe which has been a focal point, historically and culturally, in the Continent’s changing fortunes over the centuries.
It is a pleasure to announce our special guest, Éléonore Reverzy, Professor of Nineteenth- Century French Literature at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris III. Before taking up this position, she taught at the Université de Strasbourg. A specialist in Zola, the Goncourt brothers, and Huysmans, she has also published on the works of Mirbeau, one of her favorite authors. Among her publications are La Mort d’Éros (CDU-Sedes, 1997), La Chair de l’idée. Poétique de l’allégorie dans Les Rougon-Macquart (Droz, 2007), as well as a number of editions of nineteenth-century French novels, including Germinie Lacerteux (Classiques Garnier, 2014). Her most recent book, La Littérature publique, about literary prostitution in the nineteenth century, will appear with Éditions du CNRS in 2016.
Post-secondary education in Debrecen dates back to 1538, when the Protestant College was founded, an institution which has played a significant role in forming culture and academic tradition in the city. The Protestant College could be seen as the predecessor not only of today’s Debrecen Reformed Theological Seminary, but also of the University of Debrecen, which was founded in 1912, with the Faculty of Letters celebrating its centenary in 2014. Today, the University of Debrecen carries the designation of a high calibre national university. With 15 faculties and 25 doctoral programmes, its offerings are the most diverse in the country.
Our conference will be hosted by The Department of Communication and Media Studies and the Department of French Studies. We heartily thank Klára Papp, the Dean of the Faculty of Letters, Péter Szirák, Chair of the Department of Communication and Media Studies, and Gabriella Tegyey, Chair of the Department of French Studies, for inviting us to the campus of Debrecen University and hosting the conference.
University of Debrecen
Debrecen is situated on the great Hungarian plain (Alföld in Hungarian), on the Eastern edge of the country, near the borders of Slovakia, Romania and the Ukraine. With a population of over 200,000, Debrecen is the second-largest city in Hungary after Budapest, and has been known as an important centre of Calvinism since the sixteenth century — often called “Calvinist Romeˮ or the “Geneva of Hungary.ˮ The city has served as the capital of Hungary: during the Revolution of 1848-1849; and again at the end of World War II, from 1944-1945. During that war, Debrecen was unfortunately heavily bombed, the Jewish population was decimated, and communist rule followed. But Debrecen has recovered and flourishes again, profitting from its location in East-Central Europe, at the crossroads of the Slavic world.
From the sixteenth century, in fact, the city of Debrecen became an important cultural centre, as a result of the Calvinist college established there and the propagation of Protestant Reformation ideas. In the eighteenth century, Debrecen was the largest Hungarian city. One of the most important Hungarian poets, Csokanai, was born in Debrecen in 1773, and other writers and poets should be mentioned who began their careers in this city: Endre Ady (1877-1919), poet and journalist ; Gyula Krúdy (1878-1933), journalist, novelist and short story writer; and Árpád Tóth (1886-1928), poet, theatre critic, and translator. The latter translated numerous European authors into Hungarian, including French realist/naturalist novelists Flaubert and Maupassant.
The other arts are very much in evidence as well. The theatre in Debrecen dates back to 1789. The Debrecen School of Music was founded in 1861 and has its roots in the Reformed College. Every year the city of Debrecen hosts the Béla Bartók International Choir Competition. There are many museums in the city, including the Déri Museum, with its fine arts collection, featuring Egyptian antiquities among other exhibits, and the MODEM, the Modern and Contemporary Arts Centre, founded in 2006 − the region’s largest art gallery.
In Debrecen and the adjacent area, there are a number of possibilities for tourism. The downtown area claims many beautiful buildings, for example, the Great (Calvinist) Church (Nagytemplum), The Reformed College, the Jewish synogogues, and the Csokonai Theatre. The Central Park (Nagyerdő, “Big Forestˮ in Hungarian) and its spa are an attractive destination; the guided tour of the MODEM is highly recommended. Near to Debrecen, is the Hortobágy, a national park in the heart of the Hungarian Puszta (plain) famous for its flora, fauna, and traditional agriculture.
Csokonai Theatre, Debrecen
For your stay, we recommend the Hotel Nagyerdő, which has thermal pools and is situated in The Big Forest, a calm location about ten minutes from the university. This hotel will give conference participants a 10% reduction, but we will not know the exact tariffs and arrangements until about a year before the conference. Here is the web site for Hotel Nagyerdő:
Hotel Nagyerdő, Debrecen
Another possibility, for doctoral students, will be the Hotel Nadix, which is more like a pension and therefore less expensive. For this hotel, there would be no special group rate or arrangements and reservations would need to be made at least three months in advance. About a year before the conference, precise information on hotels will be posted on the AIZEN website.
The traditional excursion at the end of the conference will be to the city of Eger dominated by its castle and famous also for its Baroque and Rococo architecture. In fact, it boasts seventeen Baroque churches! Only three or four of these are regularly visited by tourists and much appreciated for their sculpture and art. The Esterházy College was built in the eighteenth century in the Rococo style, as was the Serbian Orthodox Church (Ráctemplom). There is a network of caves under the city and other wine caves in the surrounding area. The city of Eger also claims Europe’s most northern Turkish minaret and one of three that remain in Hungary, dating from the seventeenth century. The region around Eger has thermal baths and is known for its wine production – both red and white. Recently developed wines are chardonnay and pinot noir. The local wines are often compared to those of Burgundy, in France.
We look forward to meeting all those of you interested in Octave Mirbeau and Émile Zola and their influence in the wider European context in Debrecen, Hungary, in June of 2017, for Octave Mirbeau’s centenary. The AIZEN is indebted to Sándor Kálai, from the Department of Communication and Media Studies, the Co-Organizer of the conference with Anna Gural-Migdal, the President of the AIZEN, for taking the steps to bring this event to the University of Debrecen, and to his local organizational team: Anna Keszeg, also from the Department of Communication and Media Studies; and Gabriella Tegyey, Chair of the Department of French Studies. It is a pleasure for us to work with this enthusiastic and efficient group. The members of the AIZEN Organizational Committee are all presently located in Canada: Anna Gural-Migdal, President of the AIZEN, from the University of Alberta; Secretary-Treasurer, Carolyn Snipes-Hoyt, from Canadian University College; and Justine Huet, AIZEN Assistant, from Mount Royal University.
News about our members
We have good news to announce. We heartily welcome Sayeeda Mamoon, Céline Brossillon, and Elisabeth-Christine Muelsch, who have become lifetime members of the AIZEN.
Congratulations to Juliana Starr, who has been nominated Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages at the University of New Orleans. Congratulations also to Julia Przybos, who is now Director of the Ph.D. Program in French at the City University of New York (CUNY), in the heart of Manhattan. This is one of the top- ranking Ph.D. French Departments in North America, offering fields of concentration such as Comparative Studies, French Cultural Studies, International Human Rights in the French-Speaking World, Performance Studies, and Translation Studies, in addition to cutting-edge approaches to French Literature.
For more details visit the website: http://www.gc.cuny.edu/Page-Elements/Academics-Research-Centers-Initiatives/Doctoral-Programs/French.
Best wishes to Sébastien Roldan, who has been awarded a post-doctoral fellowship by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, enabling him to continue his research at the Université de Strasbourg, in France. And Carolyn Snipes-Hoyt has recently become an Adjunct Professor and Co-Chair of a new interdisciplinary program in Liberal Studies at Canadian University College (soon to be called “Burman University”).
Robert Ziegler, a long-time member of the AIZEN, has recovered from a serious illness he contracted during the summer of 2014. This is good news and we thank all AIZEN members who contributed to the fundraising effort that enabled his family to be with him during his rehabilitation.
Unfortunately, we have sad news as well. Ruth Schürch-Halas, an Instructor Emerita of the Department of French, Italian, and Spanish, at the University of Calgary (Canada), passed away in April of 2014. A specialist in Zola, Huysmans and Naturalist Studies, she taught and carried out other functions at the University from 1996 and up until fairly recently. She attended a number of AIZEN conferences and her articles were published in Excavatio and in two collections of essays produced by the AIZEN, one edited by Anna Gural-Migdal (Peter Lang, 2003 and 2004 for the second edition) and one edited by Anna Gural-Migdal and Carolyn Snipes-Hoyt (Edwin Mellen Press, 2006).
And David Baguley passed away in London (Canada) on August 17, 2014. Many of us will remember David with affection as a dedicated professor − he was still teaching this past year in the Queenʼs program at Herstmonceux Castle −, one of the leading scholars of nineteenth-century French literature of his generation, specializing in Zola, and a warm and generous colleague and friend. He will be sadly missed. Here is the tribute written by Anna Gural-Migdal, on her behalf and on behalf of the AIZEN, which was read at the memorial service in honor of our colleague and friend:
David was not only one of the greatest Zola specialists of his generation, but he has also been the living data base of Zola Studies for about forty years. He was also very generous with his time, very willing to help young scholars and students, with as much modesty as courtesy.
I met him in 1990, as a doctoral candidate, when he came from London, Ontario, to be part of my thesis defense committee at the University of Montreal. While I was honored by the participation of this highly regarded Canadian Professor in my committee, I was also put at ease by his approachable manner and open-mindedness. From that moment to the present, he has remained a loyal friend.
We had in common not only our devotion to Zola and Naturalist Studies, but also our deep interest in Zola’s connection to the newly developing arts of photography and film.
The year 1994 brought us together again at a conference of the Association Internationale Zola et Naturalisme (AIZEN) in San Francisco. At that time I was an Assistant Professor at York University, in Ontario, and he was a Full Professor at the University of Western Ontario.
Then, in 2006, we met again at another AIZEN conference, this time in New York City. He had become President of The Emile Zola Society London and a professor at the University of Durham, in the UK, while I was President of the AIZEN, and a professor at the University of Alberta, in Canada. I had invited him to be an Honored Guest at this conference focusing on Realism and Naturalism in Film Studies. His Keynote Speech about film adaptation was very well received by the conference participants.
David was very close to the AIZEN and he collaborated with our association until the end of his life. He left us too soon — an enormous loss for all of us, especially his family, his friends, his colleagues and students, at the University of Western Ontario and at Durham University, where he finished his career as Chair of the French Department.
But his memory will always remain alive for all of us, and not only because he left an important and valuable legacy of his scholarly work, made available in libraries and to researchers all over the world. Facing the future, David believed in the new generation of Zola scholars and now our homage to him will be to walk in his footsteps.
Our members continue to be very active researchers and have published works of interest to scholars in the areas of Zola, naturalism, and nineteenth-century French studies.
Brigitte Émile-Zola and Alain Pagès have recently come out with a collection of letters written by Émile Zola to his wife Alexandrine, Lettres à Alexandrine 1876-1901 (Gallimard, 2014), the last of the writer’s unedited material. Brigitte Émile-Zola wrote the Avant-propos, and Alain Pagès the Préface to this collection. The writer’s great-granddaughter recalls her childhood affection for her grandfather Jacques, Zola’s son, who kept these documents in his study. This collection follows the publication of Zola’s letters to the mother of his children, Jeanne Rozerot (Gallimard, 2004), also undertaken by Brigitte Émile-Zola and Alain Pagès. The period covered in this most recent collection found Zola often separated from Alexandrine, just before and after the drama of the Dreyfus Affair − not to mention the alienation caused by his affair with Jeanne Rozerot and Alexandrine’s subsequent trips to Italy. The Dreyfus Affair is one of Alain Pagès’s areas of expertise related to this seminal French author, among others, since he is particularly interested in the interfaces between Zola’s life and his impact on French society as a whole, through his writing.
Furthermore, Alain Pagès has come out with a new book titled Zola et le Groupe de Médan (Éditions Perrin, 2014), which traces Zola’s friendships and the evolution of his idea for creating a new literature. We follow him from his youth in Aix-en-Provence, through the development of his writing community which first met in 1880 and became known as the Groupe de Médan, after Zola’s house in the country, until 1930, the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of that group. This work emphasizes naturalism as a collective undertaking.
Colette Becker, with the collaboration of Véronique Lavielle, has come out with Volume VI, of Émile Zola. La Fabrique des Rougon-Macquart. Édition des dossiers préparatoires. This volume contains the preparatory notes for the 15th and 16th Rougon‑Macquart novels: L’Œuvre (1886) et La Terre (1887), two new examples of Zola’s multifaceted creative genius. The first, the novel of the Fine Arts, revealing the difficult situation of an experimental artist who must face art as an institution, is also an autobiographical novel, recreating the novelist’s youth in Aix-en-Provence, his arrival in Paris, and his relations with the group of young artists he frequented – artists who became famous and whose work he defended. Zola’s own career as a writer is thus evoked, its joys and anguish. The second novel, which incited the very violent Manifeste des Cinq against him and which Anatole France termed the “Géorgiques de la crapule,” describes accurately and thoroughly the morals, customs, and religious and political practices of the peasantry, and their work in the field, raising current issues related to agriculture in the last half of the nineteenth century, and making the “poem of the earth” the heroine of the novel, representing the cycle of the seasons and the essential alternation between Life and Death.
Together with Bertrand Marquer, Éléonore Reverzy has edited a collection of essays entitled La Cuisine de l’œuvre au XIXe siècle. Regards d’artistes et d’écrivains (Presses Universitaires de Strasbourg, 2014), in which the authors examine different aspects of an obsession with food and dining that seems to have overcome post-Revolutionary Europe and to have continued throughout the nineteenth century, as a discourse and motif in literature and art.
Brigitte Émile-Zola’s son has written a fictional work about his famous great-grandfather, entitled Zola. Rêve. sans nom (Nouvelles Éditions Jean-Michel Place, 2014) under the pen name Cyrille Comnène. Through the narration of a dream in which two eras and characters from each are confused, this work dramatizes a perfect crime, the metaphorical erasure of a life, that of Jeanne, the mother of Zola’s children, thus exploring a new perspective on Zola’s liaison with Jeanne Rozerot.
Olivier Lumbroso recently published a book titled Zola Autodidacte. Genèse des œuvres et apprentissages de l’écrivain en régime naturaliste (Droz, 2013), in which he considers not only Zola’s own remarkable efforts to broaden his education and hone his critical ability as a preparation for his development of naturalism and the Rougon-Macquart, but also the experience itself of writing the novels as a learning process.
Sándor Kálai has contributed to a collection, Les Racines populaires de la culture européenne, under the direction of Gabriel Fragnière and Mark Dubrulle (Peter Lang, 2014) with a book chapter titled “Dumas en Hongrie. La naissance d’un nouveau dispositif culturel.” And Stephan Brennan has edited an illustrated book titled An Autobiography of Jack London (Skyhorse Publishing, 2013), a compilation of excerpts from London’s memoirs, notably The Road, John Barleycorn, and The Cruise of the Snark.
Evlyn Gould has a new book, Dreyfus and the Literature of the Third Republic: Secularism and Tolerance in Zola, Barrès, Lazare, and Proust (MacFarland, 2012), in which she shows how these influential authors reassessed their moral convictions on the civic questions raised by the sentencing of the Jewish Army captain − related to issues such as secularism, public education, tolerance of Jews and other immigrants to France.
Karl Zieger has authored a new book, entitled Enquête sur une réception. Arthur Schnitzler et la France 1894-1938 (Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, 2012), about the best-known Austrian naturalist writer from the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Yet, to his dismay, he became known in France more for his short stories, novellas, and one-act plays, rather than for his longer works. The Parisian press labeled him “le maître de la petite forme” and “un écrivain léger,” more Latin than German (Prussian) from Berlin, and therefore palatable to the French public. This book undertakes, for the first time, a very thorough study of Schnitzler’s correspondence (some of it unpublished) with translators, editors, literary agents, theatre directors in France from 1894 to 1938, in addition to taking into account the French critical response to his works.
Together with Sigurd Paul Scheichl, Karl Zieger also edited a collection of essays, titled France-Autriche: leurs relations culturelles de 1867 à 1938 (Presses Universitaires de Valenciennes/Innsbruck University Press, 2012), exploring reciprocal cultural influences between these two countries. The essays cover an entire range of topics: politics, the press, fiction, poetry, the theatre, the Dreyfus Affair, the visual arts, art history, linguistics, and translation.
Elizabeth Emery’s book, Photojournalism and the Origins of the French Writer House Museum (1881-1914). Privacy, Publicity, and Personality, has come out with Ashgate Press (2012). In this illustrated archival work, she views the house museum as an essentially modern construct and traces the ideas building up to its development in France, providing a fresh perspective on conjunctions among visual, literary, and material cultures. Some house (and apartment) museums discussed in this work are late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century authors, such as Hugo, Dumas, Sand, Zola, Loti, Mallarmé, and Proust.
Carolyn Snipes-Hoyt, Marie-Sophie Armstrong, and Riikka Rossi edited a volume of 29 essays, based on papers given at the joint conference AIZEN/Pusan National University in South Korea (2011), titled Re-Reading Zola and Worldwide Naturalism: Miscellanies in Honour of Anna Gural-Migdal (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013), to thank the President of the AIZEN for all the time and energy she has devoted to encouraging research and collaboration in our areas of study during the last fifteen years. This collection includes essays examining unexplored areas of Zola’s project and legacy, and the works of his lesser-known naturalist contemporaries, extending the investigation of naturalism to include areas of Europe outside France, as well as the Americas and − for the first time − Asia.
And Anna Gural-Migdal herself published her monograph on Émile Zola, entitled L’Écrit-Écran des Rougon-Macquart: Conceptions iconiques et filmiques du roman chez Zola, which came out in 2012 with Presses Universitaires du Septentrion, France. In this remarkable work, she has gone further than pointing to cinematographic aspects of Zola’s novelistic discourse, identifying and developing underlying motifs in Le Ventre de Paris, Germinal, and Nana, in iconographic and filmic terms in relationship to politics and ideology. Moreover, Anna Gural-Migdal has now earned a University Undergraduate Teaching Award at the University of Alberta and is also a recipient of the prestigious Palmes acadėmiques from the French government, conferred in August of 2013. Our congratulations to the President of the AIZEN!
Jean-Charles Bou, Consul of the French Consulate in Calgary, and Anna Gural-Migdal
About our first online issue of Excavatio
We are proud to announce the appearance of Volume XXIV (2014) of Excavatio. This special issue, titled “Naturalism and Neo-Naturalism in the United States, the South, and Louisiana,” features, first of all, women in naturalist and neo-naturalist fiction, then naturalism on the screen, and ends with articles on the reception of Zola. And we welcome Lisa Ng, who has recently brought her expertise to the production of Excavatio as Editorial Assistant.
We have succeeded in transforming Excavatio into an online journal, so that we can reach a broader public and give our readers immediate access to the latest research. This volume opens up new areas of exploration in naturalist studies, with its emphasis on female naturalist authors and filmmakers. Traditional naturalist literary forms are examined, such as the novel and the theatre, but a number of these papers move us well into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries with their discussions of film, television series, and reality shows, examining the connections of these works to naturalist representation.
EXCAVATIO, VOL. XXIV, 2014.
NATURALISM AND NEO-NATURALISM IN THE UNITED STATES, THE SOUTH, AND LOUISIANA
All these activities and events initiated and presided by the AIZEN are proofs that our association is very much alive and gathering momentum. Our conferences are attracting the best scholars in the area of Zola and naturalism from all over the world. The new AIZEN website attempts not only to rebrand our association, but it will help us to disseminate our research very quickly and widely, serving as a platform for the free online access of the official journal sponsored by the AIZEN. We thank Philip Hoyt for his excellent work in developing the new AIZEN/Excavatio website.
Be engaged and become a member of the AIZEN, so that you can participate fully in our association’s activities! We strongly encourage all scholars including doctoral students to submit articles for consideration to Excavatio. Membership in the AIZEN is required in order for us to publish your research. We need your financial support to produce the online publication of Excavatio, to digitize all our archives, and to organize our forthcoming conferences. Your loyalty to our association will enable it to flourish as it serves your interests.
Please keep in mind that AIZEN membership runs from January 1 to December 31. You can easily become a member (or renew your membership) by following this link: http://www.ualberta.ca/~aizen/membership/index.html
The AIZEN performs strong community outreach, researching new forms for the implementation of the principles of naturalist doctrine worldwide. The study of naturalism in its regional context, through inclusion of writers representative of the local host culture at our conferences, is an important research goal of the AIZEN. Conferences are designed and organized according to this principle and, for this reason, the gathering that will begin to celebrate the AIZEN’s 30th anniversary will be held, after Europe, in the Southern Hemisphere: New Zealand in 2020. We hope that many of you will plan to participate in the grandiose festivities marking this anniversary.
Happy New Year… and long live Zola and naturalism!
Anna Gural-Migdal and Carolyn Snipes-Hoyt, December 30, 2014