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Society for French Studies Lecture: Lydie Salvayre and Translingual Autobiography

Calendar Wednesday, 31 October 2018
Calendar 15:00-16:30

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A lecture jointly organised by the Borders & Bodies and Translation, Adaptation & Performance research themes, as part of the School‘s Research Seminar Series with visiting scholar Associate Professor Natalie Edwards (University of Adelaide).  It is the result of a successful application to the Society for French Studies International Visiting Fellowship scheme.  This will be followed by a wine reception in the School foyer between 16:30 and 17:30.


This paper forms part of a book project that examines life writing authored by bilingual authors. Recent scholarship in applied linguistics questions understandings of bilingualism and theorises new approaches such as “dynamic bilingualism” or “translanguaging” (Ofelia García). These theories challenge traditional understandings of bilingualism, which are based upon two languages functioning in discreet units. Instead, theorists of translanguaging demonstrate that bilingualism can be best understood as two languages coming together in transformative ways, creating new grammar, meaning and subjectivities. This has significant potential for our understanding of literature written in multiple languages. Using this approach, I ask questions such as: how do authors switch between languages in their autobiographies? How do they transform two languages to invent new linguistic formations? How do they create new formulations of subjectivity within their life writing? I focus on Lydie Salvayre, whose family migrated to France as refugees from the Spanish civil war. Salvayre has published extensively in French and has recently incorporated Spanish into her writing. This presentation examines Pas pleurer, for which Salvayre won the Prix Goncourt in 2014. I first analyse the ways in which Salvayre incorporates Spanish vocabulary into her text, creating a bilingual tapestry that borrows lexical items from her two languages. I then examine the specific innovation of her text, which is her manipulation of French grammar, she changes the syntax and structures of French through literal translation from Spanish. In this way, she simultaneously transforms both the French and Spanish languages, creating a hybrid grammar that creates a space for her to narrate her subjectivity. Her self-narrative thus challenges French literary norms and paradigms of life writing as she creates a new linguistic marker with which to express her hybrid identity.


Associate Professor Natalie Edwards will be a visiting scholar at the School of Modern Languages in October and November. She specialises in contemporary literature, women’s writing, feminist theory, life writing and Francophone studies. Her trajectory is highly international.Associate Professor Edwards is British by birth and has become a citizen of both the USA and Australia. She holds a BA (Hons) from the University of Bath and obtained her PhD from Northwestern University, Chicago, in 2005. She became Assistant Professor of French that year, followed by Associate Professor with Tenure in 2011, at Wagner College, a small, private university in New York City. She moved to the University of Adelaide in 2012.She has published two single-authored books: Shifting Subjects: Contemporary Francophone Women’s Autobiography (2011) and Voicing Voluntary Childlessness: Narratives of Non-Mothering in French (2016). A/Prof Edwards has also co-edited five books and five journal volumes. She has published over thirty articles in highly-ranked international journals, such as French Cultural Studies, The French Review, Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, The Australian Journal of French Studies, A/b: Autobiography Studies and The Irish Journal of French Studies.A/Prof. Edwards is currently working on her third monograph, Translingual Selves, in which she examines life writing by bilingual women authors. Its theoretical framework is rooted in translation.

Simultaneous Translation

The event will be delivered in the medium of English. You are welcome to ask questions in the medium of Welsh during the QandA session. If you intend to do this, please contact by Wednesday 17 October to request simultaneous translation. Please note that 10% or more of those planning to attend will need to request this provision in order for it to be sourced and will be subject to resource availability.


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