The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global commerce and travel and yet made virtual connections across continents and oceans more common than ever before. This seeming contradiction feels like an apt time to discuss real and imaginary voyages.

That is the theme for the eighth global conference of the International Association for Middle French Studies. The association will hold its first virtual conference, and first in the U.S., June 8-12.

Portrait of Olga Anna Duhl“I am excited to bring this event to Lafayette,” says the association’s president, Olga Anna Duhl, Oliver E. Williams Professor of Languages and co-chair of the Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Studies Program. “While I wish people could have seen the beauty of our campus, I am still honored to host this distinguished group.”

The conference will bring together nearly every presenter from the planned 2020 in-person gathering that was disrupted by the nascent pandemic.

A year later and across global time zones, the conference will unite scholars from several research universities and other institutions of higher learning in the U.S., Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Hungary, and Italy.

The speakers will discuss French travel literature of the years 1350–1550, focusing on the increasingly important role of voyagers’ individual experiences as featured in a variety of genres, including the pilgrimage, romance, chronicle, crusade, drama, and letter. 

Broadcast from Pardee Hall, the conference will feature other noted Lafayette faculty and staff members as well. Introductory remarks will be offered by John Meier, provost and David M. ’70 and Linda Roth Professor of Mathematics, and Eric Ziolkowski, Helen H. P. Manson Professor of Bible, head of religious studies, and co-chair of the Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Studies Program. Ziolkowski and Rachel Goshgarian, associate professor of history, will moderate two sessions. Thomas Lannon, director of special collections and archives, will give a presentation on rare Marquis de Lafayette documents and artifacts. Michelle Geoffrion-Vinci, professor and head of foreign languages and literatures, will offer concluding remarks. Technical support will be provided by Mary Toulouse, director of the foreign languages and literatures resource center.

The language of the conference is predominantly French, but three papers, including one keynote lecture, will be delivered in English.

The conference is sponsored by the Provost’s Office, Humanities Center, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Studies Program, and International Association for Middle French Studies

You can learn more via related French and English websites.

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