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Gallouet Publishes on European Topos

An article by Professor of French and Francophone studies Catherine Gallouet was included in a collection of essays on European fiction titled Topographie de la rencontre dans le roman européen, published this past September by the University of Clermont-Ferrand Press. The collection analyzes the topos of the encounter in European narrative fiction, covering the Middle-Ages though the year 1800.

Gallouet’s article, “Le topos de la rencontre de l’autre au XVIIIe siècle,” is concerned, she says, “with the narrative topos (a recurrent moment in fiction-a cliché, if you like) of the encounter,” which Gallouet cites as the “transformative moment” in most fiction when the protagonist has a revelatory romantic or life-threatening experience with another character.

“The article attempts to analyze this moment,” Gallouet says, “as it is repeated in French 18th-century fiction. I am particularly interested in what happens when the protagonist encounters someone who is radically different from him/herself, an Other. The article analyzes typical encounters with Others, such as the woman, the foreigner or the African.”

Gallouet’s research for this article was done, in part, as a subset of an on-going project she is undertaking on “the discourses of representation of the African during the 18th-century.”

In November 2006, she was invited to the Université Blaise Pascal, in Clermont-Ferrand, France to participate in a graduate seminar, which sparked her interest in considering representation from perspectives and with new insights. “I started looking beyond narrative fiction into other ‘texts’,” Gallouet says, “like engravings and various images and engravings, and Enlightenment ‘scientific’ texts.” 

Her interests have been drawn recently to the Otherness and colonial Africa. In fact, she has two articles on the representation of the African that were published in 2008; the volumes will soon be released. “Corps monstrueux, corps noble, corps triomphant: les modalités de l’Africain dans la tradition narrative” will appear in a volume titled Les discours du corps au XVIIIe siècle : literature-philosophie-histoire-sciences; and “Le corps noir dans la fiction narrative du XVIIIe siècle (Voltaire, Montesquieu, Behn, de la Place, Castilhon, de Duras)” will be published in Le corps romanesque : images et usages topiques sous l’Ancien Régime. Both articles deal with “the black body and how it is portrayed in fiction and pseudo-historical chronicles,” Gallouet says.

She is also the co-editor of a forthcoming collection of essays from the Voltaire Foundation (SVEC) Oxford (May 2009) that deals with the representations of the African in fiction, travel narratives, proto-anthropology and iconography. The collection will include an essay by Gallouet analyzing the representation of Zingha, the queen of Angola from the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

Gallouet has been a member of the HWS staff since 1986. She received her doctorate and master’s from Rutgers University, her B.A. cum laude from Hope and her Bacalauréat, with honors, from Académie de Grenoble. She was also the initiator of HWS’s French study abroad programs.