Forum – Why We Read ? #2

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.


All of the events will take place at the Bibliothèque des Grand Moulins at Paris Diderot at 7pm unless indicated otherwise.

January 22, 2019: Philippe Vasset and Dominique Rabaté, « Read, Investigate »
From the origins of crime fiction, one of the principal inventions of the modern era, to the non-fiction novel today, we are witnessing a massive extension in investigative territory. We will consider the methodology of the investigator, in their profiles and incarnations, as well as the close relationship between literature and other social sciences (sociology, history, psychology), what Carlo Ginzberg calls the “evidential paradigm”. And we will revel in the pleasures when the reader, they too, plays the role of the detective.

February 19, 2019: “Reading for writing” with Olivia Rosenthal
We often say that writers need to be surrounded by books in order to write. They use pages of others like a screen to protect themselves, but also like a diving board to take off. Using my own experience as a writer as a starting point, I will evoke some of the difficulties that we can encounter and methods we can use to protect ourselves and to dive in. I will use various references from philosophy, from ethnography, and even from literature that I bend to my will, in a proposition that will be less of an analysis than a performance.

March 22, 2019: Marik Froidefond and Denise Desautels, “What’s the use of reading poetry today?
What’s the use of poetry and poets? What good is reading poetry if it doesn’t tell us a story, if it doesn’t stop violence, and sometimes even veils its meaning from us? More than any other genre of literature, poetry elicits mistrust, and even scorn: we accuse it of being elitist, hermetic, or egocentric, and will quickly accuse it of all the evils under the sun, but perhaps most of all of expiring. However, poets continue to write it and readers continue to read it. Does this perseverance prove that poetry (still) has something to say to us, and that we have something to receive or require of poetry? The Springtime of Poets this year will center around Beauty. Perhaps we read and write in a world in a state of extreme deterioration and pain to continue to believe in the possibility of a future, and to give ourselves the chance to search for one, to approach one on earth, and to speak about one when it seems to deny its own existence, and perhaps most of all in the texts that put it to the test. These questions will be at the center of our conversation with the Quebecois poet Denis Desautels. We will reflect upon the manners in which we read poetry, as the question of why and how are closely linked and reveal the specificity of our relationships that links us to poetry. If we can’t read poetry as we might read detective fiction, does that mean we must oppose our fictional readings and our poetic readings (and consider one linear, cursory, immersive) and as the reverse of the other (non-linear, disruptive, distant)? Finally, what differences are there between reading and listening to reading out loud, which is to say between the solitary and silent and attending a public performance of a poetry reading?

April 15, 2019: Sophie Rabau and Marianne Seleskovitch, “Reading In Disagreement, Carmen for Change
Love is the child of the Bohème! You know it. But do you know where this tune comes from? Who sings it? Is it Carmen? Are you sure? Such is the history of a reader, who would like to read Carmen and not without change, but also of a mezzo-soprano who would also like to sing la Habanera, but differently. They discuss it, reread it, and look on suspiciously at the notes and words that make Carmen inside out, in music and text. They will distribute pieces of paper to the public in order to offer new paths and new ideas of what Carmen is. There more than one Carmen in all different ways. This evening, they can’t and don’t know how it’s going to turn out, if it’s going to cry out, sing, chant, or improvise. Tonight, it’s the Carmen Surprise.

June 06, 2019: Myriam Lefkowitz and Cécile Lavergne, “The Book Club”
THE BOOK CLUB proposes to invent a geographic attentiveness: rather than separating body and spirit, theory and practice, this form of reading seeks the means to link concepts to sensations, to affects, to perceptions, to memories, to objects, to rhythms, and to space – as many resources as are necessary in order to deploy new regimes of comprehension.

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