Fondation des États-Unis | November 26 to April 23: Forum – Why do we read #3
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November 26 to April 23: Forum – Why do we read #3

Why do we read is an investigation on reading as experience. This investigation is carried out through the collection of stories from a diverse group of readers as well as a cycle of forums moderated by academics, artists, and writers on our ways of reading and being. Inspired by Lyn Hejinian’s concept of « the open text’, here the traditional hierarchy between the author and the reader breaks down and balances out. Each witness, each reader, each academic, artist and writer is a co-investigator is this community of experience. The FEU is delighted to host the opening of the third cycle of Why do we read ! This cycle is organized by Christopher Gellert, former resident of the Fondation des Etats-Unis and student of Université Paris Diderot in partnership with Bibliothèque des Grands Moulins – Université Paris Diderot, *DUUU radio and the FEU.

Free admission depending on available seats. Follow the Facebook page to get reminders!


The opening of this new edition will take place at the Fondation des Etats-Unis. All other events will take place at the Bibliothèque des Grand Moulins at Paris Diderot from 7pm to 9pm unless indicated otherwise.

« Reading the United States », Frédéric Forte
Tuesday November 26th at 7pm, at the library of the Fondation des Etats-Unis
We know well that translating from one language to another can arise to misunderstandings and treacherous transformations. But when we read foreign literature in translation, this (bad) reading also provokes uncertainties surrounding the social and cultural customs of the country in question, its landscape and the character of its inhabitants. In the company of Frédéric Forte (poet, member of Oulipo, and occasional translator of North-American poetry), we will discuss the illusions that he’s been subject to concerning the United States and American culture through his reading of its literature (and the fantasies that reading in translation can give rise to in general.) For F. Forte, the only real possibility to understand American poetry is to translate it. So, during this round table we will read North American writers in French and English in order to discuss problems associated with the translation of a foreign culture, even when we are intimately familiar with it. We will then proceed to a collective workshop and discussion around the slippage between American English and French and the links between these two literary worlds and literary imaginations.

« Reading Collecting », Franck Leibovici (poet and artist) & Abigail Lang (associate professor in Anglophone studies at L’Université de Paris, translator)
Tuesday January 28th 2020, from 7 to 9pm
What is the frontier between the real and poetry? In conversation with the poet and artist Franck Leibovici we will ask how poetry can create a set of tools proper to the investigation in order to explore and mine big data, witness statements, and archives. We will speak about the history of the literary investigation in France and in the United States and the links between these two traditions, from Charles Reznikoff to Emmanuel Hocquard. We will speak with Franck Leibovici and his methodology, which aims to break down and interpret large masses of data (docuements, images, etc.) through poetic dispostifs. In particular, we will reflect on the poetic shaping of his collected data : tinder chats and amateur sex tapes, amorous correspondences… (de l’amour, Jean Boîte éditions, 2019). a trial at the International Penal Court (bogoro, Questions théoriques, 2016), senatorial rhetoric and stalling (filibuster, Jeu de paume, 2013), military and activist websites (portraits chinois, Al Dante, 2007), a commission report on a terroist attack (9+11, ubuweb, 2005), powerpoint presentations (quelques storyboards, ubuweb, 2003)… Finally, we will ask how poetic dispostifs can constitute another form of knowledge that acts directly within social contexts and within institutions. For the past several years in collaboration with the jurist Julien Seroussi in partnership with The International Criminal Court, Franck Leibovici has been evaluating different poetic tools and how a mix of art and social sciences allows for another understanding of visual and textual evidence that complements a more traditional jurisprudential methodology.

The evening with finish with a collective reading.

« Reading Money », Christophe Hanna (poet) & Pierre Zaoui (Philosophy professor at Université de Paris)
Thursday February 27th 2020, from 7 to 9pm
How much is art worth? In the economy, an art market (or the book market) is often marked by a star economy : the most successful (in terms of sales) are able to make an enormous amount of money, while the rest of the artists generally live barely above the poverty line: winner takes all. From a political point of view, there’s certainly much to induce vomit and tears, even if vomiting and crying don’t induce much political change. From a moral point of view, nothing’s to be said and all nostalgia is forbidden. After all, it’s a system that’s no more immoral than the economy of inheritance and annuities that characterizes the great artists of the 19th and early 20th Century. But from an artistic standpoint, this obligates contemporary artists to transform themselves, their studios and their desks in the money-making machines. It’s perhaps more interesting and funnier. In any case, it’s the path that we will explore together.

« Springtime of the Poets », Martin Rueff (poet and professor and the Univeristy of Geneva) & Marik Froidefond (poet and associate professor in literature at Université de Paris)
Thursday March 19th 2020, from 7 to 9pm


« The art of seasoning texts », Sophie Rabau (author, lecturer at l’Université de Paris) & Laurent Calvié (philogist and director of the collection « Essais — Philologie »)
Thursday April 23rd 2020 
What do we do with a literary work that repels us, displeases us, makes our hairs stand on end? Stop reading? Close the book or turn off the screen? Of course, but we don’t always have this possibility, especially when we have to read something assigned to us in school or college. Laurent Calvié, philologist and editor at Éditions Anacharsis and Sophie Rabau author of de L’Art d’assaissonner les textes propose a powerful and poorly known method of reading in disagreement: interpolation. We can add to and change literary texts we don’t like.

« Reading Migration » with Clément Baloup (graphic novelist) and Marie Gibert-Flutre (associate professor in geography at Université de Paris)
Thursday, May 20th 2020

How do the personal experiences and stories of migrations meet the colonial History of France’s occupation of Vietnam in a graphic novel? With Quitter Saïgon, and the series Mémoire de Viet Kieu, Clément Baloup sheds light on the history of Vietnamese diaspora and the story of the massive migration of the boat people who fled Vietnam after the end of the occupation by the United States Army, the subsequent economic crisis and ethnic and political repressions by Vietnam’s new communist government. By transforming oral narratives, archives, and forgotten destinies Clément Baloup brings them to a wider public. We will speak with the associate geography professor Fibert-Flutre, a specialist in South-East Asian migration) who will offer historical background on the subject.