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Chair: Godela Weiss-Sussex (Professor, ILCS, University of London)
Monja Stahlberger (PhD Candidate, Research Centre for German & Austrian Exile Studies, Institute of Languages, Cultures and Societies, School of Advanced Study, University of London) 

“‘Dear Diary…’: Writing the Everyday in Diaries of the Kindertransport”

My talk briefly outlines the diary as an everyday document with a focus on the fragmentary depiction of everyday life. Following suggestions of diary studies scholars like Kathryn Sederberg and Desirée Henderson, I aim to highlight how the everyday is depicted in diaries of Kindertransport refugees. To illustrate this, I give an overview of the primary material I draw on in my research on changing notions of belonging in diaries of the Kindertransport and how the children are documenting ordinary lives in extraordinary circumstances. These diaries, as a source, highlight various aspects and notions of everyday life in exile.

2 Dominique Hétu (Assistant Professor, Brandon University, Canada)

“Textures of the Ordinary in Contemporary Poetry by Women in Quebec”  

In a growing selection of contemporary literary texts published in French, there are textual forms and narrative strategies that call to attention what anthropologist Veena Das names “a descent into the ordinary” and a “cultivation of sensibilities within the everyday” (2007, p. 137). In this talk, I will present on the poetry of Roseline Lambert and Camille Readman Prud’homme, two poets from Quebec whose collections provide a relational measurement of this “descent” by challenging dominant scripts of shame and responsibility. While the two poetry collections rely on different perspectives of the ordinary, they both echo Nicole Brossard’s advice - “[i]l y a des nuits en nous, il faut s’en occuper” (2012, p. 13) - and allow thinking the ordinary not as a space, but as a texture of everyday life. Drawing mostly on ordinary ethics and politics and vulnerability studies, this interdisciplinary comparative study further reflects on the potential of comparative literature for contending with the textures and realities of the ordinary as a cultural and social fabric where the “contradictory impulses of violence and care, illness and healing” (Das) demand new forms of attention and frameworks of intelligibility. 

3 Adina Balint (Professor, University of Winnipeg, Canada)

“Everyday Life Writing in Contemporary Literature in French (France, Quebec)”

This talk examines key moments of the development of the “écriture du quotidien” in French (France, Quebec) from the 1980s to today. Socio-anthropological surveys (R. Jauffret. Ph. Artières), urban explorations (M. de Kerangal, C. Mavrikakis), phenomenology of everyday objects resonating with self-narratives (M. Sabolo, L. Flem), everyday life writing has been little studied as such. Drawing on theories of the everyday (De Certeau, Sheringham, Bégout), this presentation aims to show that the interest of texts exploring everyday life experiences lies in particular in the fact that they establish a fruitful dialogue with social sciences (that have examined the notion of the everyday before literature); they often have a hybrid status that falls under the category of “experimental” literature; and they call into question the boundaries between the theoretical and the literary, between life and art/literature. Ultimately, does everyday life writing trigger a “politics of literature” (Rancière, 2007) that is likely to modify our modes of representations of reality? 

Each speaker will present for 10-12 minutes. At the end, there will be a 20-minute period of questions and discussion. 

All are welcome to attend this free seminar, which will be held online via Zoom at 14:00 GMT | 8:00 CST. You will need to register in advance to receive the online joining link. Please click on the Book Now button at the top of the page to register.