French Department News & Events

Upcoming Events:

Cabaret Night
French House (King Hall)
Friday April 21, 7-9 PM.

 The French House invites you to Cabaret Night on April 21st at King House! Enjoy the open mic and dazzle us with your songs, theatrical performances, poem readings, jokes or stories (in French). Or just listen, that's okay too. It will be the semester's last event, and we're counting on you to make it memorable!
Refreshments will be served!
If you're planning to perform, please inform us at, so we will know how many people want to join in!

Upcoming Lecture:

Lecture by Ivan Jablonka
"A History of the Grandparents I Never Had"
Monday, April 24th at 5:30 p.m.
Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Frost Library

Ivan Jablonka’s grandparents’ lives ended long before his began: although Matès and Idesa Jablonka were his family, they were perfect strangers. Neither of them was the least bit famous, and they left little behind except their two orphaned children, a handful of letters, and a passport. Persecuted as communists in Poland, as refugees in France, and then as Jews under the Vichy regime, Matès and Idesa lived their short lives underground, overcome by the tragedies of the twentieth century: Stalinism, the Second World War, and the destruction of European Jews.

Jablonka’s challenge was, as a historian, to rigorously distance himself and yet, as family, to invest himself completely in their story. Imagined oppositions collapsed—between scholarly research and personal commitment, between established facts and the passion of the one recording them, between history and the art of storytelling.

Ivan Jablonka’s talk is adapted from his book of the same name, A History of the Grandparents I Never Had (Stanford University Press, 2016). Ivan Jablonka is a professor of contemporary history at the Université Paris-XIII-Nord and a novelist. An award-winning writer, his essay, "History is a Contemporary Literature", will be published by Cornell University Press in the fall of 2017.

Lecture and reception are free and open to the public. This event is generouly sponsored by the Georges Lurcy Lecture Series Fund at Amherst College, the Corliss Lamont Lectureship for a Peaceful World, the French Embassy in the United States, and the Amherst College French Department.

Recent Lectures:

Lecture by Bruno C. Duarte
"Henri Michaux: Drawing Away from Words"
Monday, March 10th at 5:00 p.m.
117 Fayerweather Hall

Throughout many decades, Henri Michaux (1899-1984) pursued a parallel interest in the art of writing and the visual arts. Alongside numerous exhibitions of his drawings and paintings at different venues in France and abroad, several of his books represent an attempt to bring together text and image. To which extent is reading contained or reflected in seeing, and, conversely, in what way is the act of looking at a text able to respond to its own iconography? Dr. Bruno Duarte, currently a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Johns Hopkins University, will explore the intersection of image and text in Henri Michaux’s oeuvre.

"How Did I Get Here? Humanities in the First Person"
Panel Discussion organized by:
Youna Kwak, University of Redlands and Raphaël Sigal, Amherst College
Friday, March 31st at 5:00 p.m.
Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Frost Library

A diverse panel of students explore the subjectivities, intimacies, autobiographies and secrecies that animate scholarly work, whether openly or unconsciously.

Youna Kwak is a writer and translator, currently teaching at the University of Redlands in California.  Professor Kwak will be moderating a discussion with Amherst College students Emilie Flamme ’20, Aquiil Gopee ’20, Pauline Herbert-Whiting ’19, Tasheena Narraidoo ’18, Diego Ramos-Meyer ’19, Brett Sokol ’19, Qi Xie ’17, Evan Young ’19 and Victoria Zhang ’18.

Sponsored by the Amherst College French Department, The Lamont Lecture Fund and the Center for Humanistic Inquiry.

Lecture by Colette Fellous in honor of Professor Leah Hewitt
"Fabrication de Pièces détachées"
Thursday, March 30th at 4:30 p.m.
Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Frost Library

Please join us for the inaugural biennial lecture given in honor of Professor Leah Hewitt, who taught for 30 years in the French Department at Amherst College.  We have invited Colette Fellous, a prominent French writer to give a talk on Thursday, March 30th at 4:30 p.m. in the Center for Humanistic Inquiry in Frost Library.

Novelist, editor, radio producer and host, Colette Fellous was born in Tunis, and moved to Paris at age 17 to pursue the study of literature under the direction of Roland Barthes. Her first novel, Roma, was published in 1982, followed by 18 books, among them Le Petit Palais (1995), Le Petit Casino (1999), Avenue de France (2001) and Aujourd’hui (2005) which received the Prix Marguerite Duras. Fellous will speak about the process of writing her latest novel, Pièces détachées, in which she superimposes past and present, Tunisia and Normandy, faces and music, to explore the life of her father who went into exile in Paris in the wake of the mass exodus of Jews from Tunisia in the 1960s. The lecture will be delivered in French.

The lecture and reception following are free and open to the public. For further information please contact the Department of French at (413) 542-8251. This event is co-sponsored by the Amherst College French Department, the Lucius Root Eastman 1895 Fund, the Corliss Lamont Lectureship for a Peaceful World, and a fund established through generous donations of French Department alumni.