French/News and Events
March 20, 2012: Barbara T. Cooper, professor of French in the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures, has just published an edition of Le Tremblement de terre de la Martinique (The Earthquake in Martinique) by Charles Lafont and Charles Desnoyer with the French publisher L’Harmattan. The play, a spectacular drama terminating with the recreation of the earthquake that devastated parts of the French colony of Martinique in January 1839, was performed at the Theatre de la Porte-Saint-Martin in Paris in January 1840. More than just a circumstantial drama, however, the play also derives part of its plot from a novel titled Outre-mer written by the Martinican writer Louis Maynard de Queilhe who published his book in Paris in 1835. Professor Cooper discovered this previously unknown connection between the play and the novel thanks to her study of the drama’s original manuscript which she found in a provincial library in France. Her close examination of parts of that manuscript as well as a collection of contemporary theatre reviews from Parisian newspapers accompanies the annotated text of the play in Cooper’s edition.
“What makes this play especially noteworthy, Cooper contends, is the fact that it combines fact and fiction in several interesting ways. Beyond the references to the actual earthquake and the borrowings from a novel by a Martinican writer, Le Tremblement de terre de la Martinique sets its invented story in the context of contemporary French colonial expansion and military interventions. It also refers to opinions about the abolition of slavery expressed in both Martinique and France and highlights the differences between the rights and opportunities available to people of mixed race in France and in the French colonies. In addition, the play gives particular weight to the symbolic and actual geography of Martinique, using that geography to highlight the racial tensions that, like the earthquake, might at any moment destroy the colony.”
This play is the third drama Cooper has published with L’Harmattan. In 2006 she edited Cora, ou l’esclavage (Cora or Slavery), a play about slavery in the America South at the time of the Civil War, and in 2008 La Traite des Noirs (The Slave Trade), a drama about the transportation and enslavement of Africans from one part of the world to another.
March 19, 2012: Professor Barbara T. Cooper has just been elected an associate member of LIRE. LIRE is a joint research unit in 18th and 19th century literature of the University Lumière (Université de Lyon-II, France) and the CNRS, National Center for Scientific Research, section 35 of the Humanities and Social Sciences department. LIRE stands for Littérature, Idéologies, Représentations.
In the context of this research unit, Professor Cooper will be working with colleagues at several French institutions on projects involving the study of 19th-century French drama, its reception in the media, the representation of minorities (especially Blacks) in 19th-century drama, and the nature of popular theater. She has just finished editing a special issue of the prestigious Revue d’Histoire du theatre with Olivier Bara, of Lyon-II and LIRE, that is scheduled for publication in early 2013.
In another context, Professor Cooper recently taught a seminar for Master’s-level students at the Université de Nantes, France where she talked about "La représentation des grands, entre sublime et grotesque, dans Henri III et sa cour de Dumas père."
July, 2011: Claire Malarte-Feldman, Professor of French and the Director of the Center for International Education, will be honored by the French government with the "chevalier de l'ordre des palmes academiques" later this year. It is a civil distinction from the French Ministry of National Education for teachers, professors, and expatriates who promote French language and culture abroad. UNH Professors Nadine Bérenguier and Barbara Cooper have previously been knighted.
Conduct Books for Girls in Enlightenment France
by Nadine Bérenguier
From book cover: During the eighteenth-century, at a time when secular and religious authors in France were questioning women’s efforts to read, a new literary genre emerged: conduct books written specifically for girls and unmarried young women. In this carefully researched and thoughtfully argued book, Professor Nadine Bérenguier shares an in-depth analysis of this development, relating the objectives and ideals of these books to the contemporaneous Enlightenment concerns about improving education in order to reform society. Works by Anne-Thérèse de Lambert, Madeleine de Puisieux, Jeanne Marie Leprince de Beaumont, Louise d'Epinay, Barthélémy Graillard de Graville, Chevalier de Cerfvol, abbé Joseph Reyre, Pierre-Louis Roederer, and Marie-Antoinette Lenoir take up a wide variety of topics and vary dramatically in tone. But they all share similar objectives: acquainting their young female readers with the moral and social rules of the world and ensuring their success at the next stage of their lives. While the authors regarded their texts as furthering the common good, they were also aware that they were likely to be controversial among those responsible for girls' education. Bérenguier's sensitive readings highlight these tensions, as she offers readers a rare view of how conduct books were conceived, consumed, re-edited, memorialized, and sometimes forgotten. In the broadest sense, her study contributes to our understanding of how print culture in eighteenth-century France gave shape to a specific social subset of new readers: modern girls.
Available at the publisher's website and other online retailers.