Seminar: "The Poetics of Voice in Contemporary Literature in English"

ENS de Lyon

The objective of this seminar is to analyse the poetics of voice in contemporary literature in English. It may seem paradoxical to evoke the concept of voice when dealing with a written text which, by definition, is mute. Voice in writing can only be a simulacrum, a fiction, an illusion, a spectre, but we propose to study the modes of representations of these effects of voice and orality, covering the whole spectrum from verbal overflow to aphasia, from effusiveness to muteness.

We examine in particular the mechanisms involved in the purification and the contamination of silence by analysing ellipses and reluctance in narration and dialogue, but also typographical blanks which literally inscribe silence on the page. We also study devices of excess, emphasis, verbiage and proliferation of words from a poetic and political perspective. By confronting these two apparently opposed dimensions in narratives, we examine what each reveals and determine what they might have in common, especially as some authors employ both strategies.

The seminar includes lectures by invited professors. Some of them are accessible on the Clé des langues website.

30 novembre 2023, Jaine Chemmachery (Sorbonne Université) : "Les Refugee Tales : réintégrer les réfugié·es au corps collectif par le récit et la marche"

Cédric Courtois (Université de Lille) : "« Let’s Tell This [Short] Story Properly » : migration et voix dans Manchester Happened (2019) de Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi et Better Never Than Late (2019) de Chika Unigwe"

23 February 2023, Wojciech Drąg (University of Wrocław, Poland): "Experimental Life-Writing: From Roland Barthes to Digital Biography"


11, 17 January and 6 February 2023, Pr. Saugata Bhaduri (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India)

Cycle of three lectures
- 'Literary Theory", Ideology-Critique, and Beyond
From National Literatures to World Literature: Issues in Translation and Comparative Literature
- Postcolonialism and its Discontents: Towards Polycoloniality


10 October 2022, Jumana Bayeh (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia)

"Literature, Sound and Egypt’s Arab Spring (on Chronicle of a Last Summer (2016) by Yasmine El Rashidi and The City Always Wins (2017) by Omar Robert Hamilton). Audio file

20 November 2019, Jumana Bayeh (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia)

« Precarious Borders: The Nation-State and Arab Diaspora Literature »


7, 9, 13 May 2019. Christine Froula (Northwestern University, United States)

- "Poetry and Poetics of the Modernist Everyday in Joyce, Woolf, and Pound"
- "
War, Catharsis, Peace: Ancient Greek Visions and 21st Century Violence"

-"Make It Old New: Revolution and Return in 21st Century Art. Chance, Surprise, Wonder"

- Round table on Literary Studies in the United States (Christine Froula and Sandra Gustafson, University of Notre Dame)


17, 24, 25 October 2017. Udaya Kumar (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India)
- "Caste and the Present: Modernity, ​ Modernism and Dalit Writing in India" (video)

- "Spectrality and Narrative Voice: Reading Dalit Stories from India"

- "Death and Contemporary Political Imaginaries" (video)

18 November 2015. Hubert Malfray (Lycée Claude-Fauriel—Saint-Étienne): “Quête et enquête du féminin chez P.D. James: le roman d’espionnage et la voix de l’inconvenance”.

15 October 2014. Catherine Pesso-Miquel (University of Lyon 2) : « Quand la voix soliloque: l’écriture de la conscience dans le roman contemporain de langue anglaise »

3 October 2012. Gerd Bayer (University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany): "Printed Betrayals: Voices and Epistolary Fiction"

14 February 2012. Axel Stähler (University of Canterbury, Kent, Great-Britain): "Of Hypochondriac Voices and Poetical Existence: Israel in British Jewish Fiction".

20 October 2010. Annette Kern (University of Berne, Switzerland): "Translating the Unspeakable: Interpreters at War Crime Trials on the Contemporary British Stage".

19 November 2009. Axel Stähler (University of Canterbury, Kent, Great-Britain): "Giving Voice to the Silence of the Other: Holocaust Narratives of Re(dis)covery".