Forum – Why We Read?

Reading changes and nourishes our relationship with the world around us and with others. It influences and helps form our sense of self. Reading accompanies us through our lives, a subtle presence, and companion. We ask you to join us in a cycle of forums with authors, academics, and passionate bibliophiles to discuss the influence of reading in our lives, and on our paths. This cycle traces the journey of Christopher Alexander Gellert through the homes of readers, as they broke bread together to converse about the role of reading in their lives, its essential place.

We invite you to enter in the intimate shared space of these literary dinners through audio-recordings and photos, and to discover the books that have marked the lives of the participants, as well as to leave your own in an exchange. A reading room in perpetual evolution will offer a glimpse into each chapter in this voyage, as well as space to share stories about literature’s influence.

The project will take place from December 11 through March 2018 in partnership with the Fondation des États-Unis, the student organization Politik’Art, the office of student life of Paris 7, and Crous Action Culture.


December 13, 2017 :  Sophie Vasset If I were sick, I would finally have time to read
Paris 7, Bibliothèque des Grand Moulins

In Her essay on illness, which has become a commonplace in the field of medical humanities, Virginia Woolf questions the effects of illness on the reader, and the manner in which the experience of illness deconstructs the reader and their expectations. She explores a series of texts, both classic and popular, examining the reader’s perceptions, as well as that of the character. 

January 25, 2018 : Anne Crémieux and Vincent Broqua « Lire le genre »
Fondation des États-Unis 

In her autobiographical essay “Seeing Gender”, (Bodies of Work, 1997), the American writer Kathy Acker (1947-1997) ties the piracy of gender representation to that of reading. She establishes a link between her mortifying experience of gendered representations that have been assigned to her, and a compensatory desire to read, and later on, a pirate writing, i.e. a writing that relies on piracy of other texts and other literary genres. Using a reading a of this essay, as well as presentation of Kathy Acker’s work, as points of departure we will seek to question the ways in which gender representations, and those that deconstruct them, are mediated by writing (in the broader sense of the term, literary writing, cinematographic writing). Thus, far from searching for the gendered essences in writing, we will seek to question what effect the question of gender has on writing. We might, in this way, evoke Rosmarie Waldrop’s texts, where gendered grammar is called into question, the epic question of gender as treated by women writers, or even the genre of the essay, where it will be a question of asking what becomes of cinematographic writing when gender works in and on the cinema, from one side of the camera or the other.

February 8, 2018 :  Pierre Zaoui « Lire le boudoir, les plaisirs de la langue »
Paris 7, Bibliothèque des Grand Moulins
Does Eros join you on your beside table? In the heady musk of yellowed pages, or the fresh perfume of virgin paper? Are you carried away by the sweet follies of the tongue? The Bibliothèque de Paris Diderot has the pleasure of inviting you to “Reading The Boudoir, The Pleasures of The Tongue” with Pierre Zaoui. We will question our erotic and romantic relations with reading, and the influence of our reading in our relationships.

March 19, 2018: Dominique Rabaté « Lire le roman, pour se trouver ou se perdre ? »
Paris 7, Bibliothèque des Grand Moulins

Is it really true, as we so often claim, that that reader, and more often the feminine reader— as with Emma Bovary— identifies with characters from the novels they read? How does this phenomenon operate? Why does it serve to discredit the novelistic fable, and to impute the mental fitness of those who submit to its contagious power? What identity-mechanisms does the act of reading of a novel mobilize in the reader? Couldn’t we just as well say that reading novels favors a mobile plasticity, and a capacity towards disidentification?

April 5, 2018Eric Marty, “The Death of Reading?”
Performance by Paloma Moin beginning at 6pm, Paris 7, Bibliothèque des Grand Moulins
Why do we continue to read? How has our relationship with reading changed in the present era? If, in the future, we will continue to read, what form(s) will this practice take on? What will be its place? Long ago, in ancient times, reading was the exercise of power; knowing how to read was to have power, sometimes even to be powerful. We will question the death of reading in a very subjective approach, rather than through a sociological optic based on statistics and surveys on the diminution of the number of readers. One question comes to mind: what will reading be and become when this act is irremediably alienated from all emblems of power?

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