About the Series

On the occasions of the retirements of Professors Leah D. Hewitt and Jay L. Caplan, their colleagues, friends, and former Amherst College French majors found it fitting to establish a lecture series in their honor. Generous sums were donated to make this series possible. Each year a distinguished scholar or artist in the respective fields that Professors Hewitt and Caplan taught at the College will be invited to deliver a lecture to the Amherst College community, which will be filmed and posted on this website for the viewing pleasure of those who are unable to attend.

Lectures in Honor of Professor Emerita Leah Hewitt and Professor Emeritus Jay Caplan

Perspectives on Race and Blackness in the Francophone World

Lectures by Lydie Moudileno and Andrew S. Curran
Thursday, March 3, 2022

Professors Lydie Moudileno (the Marion Frances Chevalier Professor of French and Professor of French and American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California Dornsife) and Andrew S. Curran (the William Armstrong Professor of the Humanities in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Wesleyan University) delivered talks that brought the modern and the early modern periods into conversation.

A photo of Leah D. Hewitt

In Honor of Leah D. Hewitt

Professor of French, Emerita

Following an early interest in contemporary French autobiography and its ties to history, especially World War II, Leah D. Hewitt focused her work in modern French literature and culture on how one constructs or represents identity.

Haiti and the Fictions of History

Lecture by Kaiama Glover
April 13, 2023

The Amherst College French Department welcomed Prof. Kaiama Glover (Ann Whitney Olin Professor of French and African Studies at Barnard College) for its biannual lecture in Honor of Prof. Emerita Leah Hewitt on April 13th, 2023.

Prof. Kaiama Glover offered a broad comparative meditation on modes of storytelling Haiti's past, specifically in the wake of increased mainstream attention to that history on such platforms as the New York Times ("Haiti: The Ransom Project") and HBO (Raoul Peck's Exterminate All the Brutes). Thinking through both Edouard Glissant's engagement with histories from an Antillean perspective and Saidiya Hartman's fraught encounters with The Archive, Prof. Glover will consider the prose fiction works of three contemporary Haitian women writers – Evelyne Trouillot, Edwidge Danticat, and Myriam Chancy – as historiographic interventions of a particular order.

My Way: Crossing the U.S., from Venice to Babylon

Lecture by Laure Murat
March 20, 2019

Laure Murat is Professor of French and Director of the Center for European and Russian Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a prolific author and based her Amherst College lecture on a work in progress, both a road trip and a book.

“My Way” is the title of this project, the purpose being to cross the U.S. from the West Coast to the East Coast and back again, stopping only in places named after foreign cities. From Venice, Calif., to Babylon, N.Y., Professor Murat will analyze how America paid homage to the rest of the world, revealing the "elsewhere" hidden within the "here." Paris, Texas, and Memphis, Tenn., will serve as highlights of a trip which is also a wandering of the mind, inspired by the magic of names.

Loading the player...

Fabrication de Pièces détachées

Lecture by Colette Fellous
March 30, 2017

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 spoke about the process of writing her latest novel, Pièces détachées, in which she superimposes past and present, Tunisia and Normandy and 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. 

Loading the player...

In Honor of Jay L. Caplan

Jay L. Caplan

Professor of French, Emeritus

Novel Portrait Theory in the Ancien Régime

Lecture by Andrew H. Clark
September 21, 2023

The Amherst College French Department welcomed Professor Andrew H. Clark for its biannual lecture in honor of Professor Emeritus Jay Caplan. Professor Clark’s lecture was titled “Novel Portrait Theory in the Ancien Régime.” The lecture was drawn from his current book project, which is on visual portraiture and the rise of the novel in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France.

Author of “Diderot’s Part” (Ashgate 2008), Professor Andrew H. Clark ’95 is Professor and Chair of French at Fordham University, where he teaches courses, among other things, on the Enlightenment, Diderot, women’s writing, and the birth of the novel. He is currently finishing a book on visual portraiture and the rise of the novel in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France entitled “The Portrait and Its Double.”

The Histoire Mémorable Between News and History: Framing Accounts of Current Events in the French Wars of Religion 

Lecture by Andrea Frisch
March 5, 2020

Andrea Frisch, Professor of French at the University of Maryland, is a distinguished scholar of early modern French literature and has published extensively on historiography and memory, especially in the context of the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598) and their aftermath. Her current scholarship, which also informed her lecture at Amherst College, extends her examination of the notions of testimony, memorability and the memorable to a wider European context. This event was sponsored by the Amherst College French Department, The Georges Lurcy Lecture Series at Amherst, and the Turgeon Fund.

Inside the French Boudoir: Architecture and Desire in the Eighteenth Century

Lecture by Pierre Saint-Amand
March 29, 2018

Pierre Saint-Amand has research interests in the literature of the 18th century, the philosophy of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and literary criticism and theory. Among his celebrated works are a book dedicated to the philosophical and scientific writings of Denis Diderot and a book on the political writings of the philosophers. His latest book is a study dedicated to the Enlightenment's resistance to the ideology of work at the dawn of capitalism.

Loading the player...