The Society for French Studies Postgraduate Conference 2016

Call for Papers: Protest in French and Francophone Arts and Culture

Date and Place: Saturday 23 April 2016, IMLR (formerly IGRS), Senate House (London)

Deadline for Submission: Monday 1 February 2016

Deadline for Registration: Friday 8 April 2016

Keynote Speaker: ‘(Self-)censorship and the Limitations of Artistic Intervention in Merzak Allouache’s Normal!’ (2011), Professor Will Higbee (University of Exeter)

Training Session: ‘How to Get Published as a PhD or ECR’, Dr Jamal Bahmad (University of Leeds)


Protest is an intrinsic part of human culture, which enables subjects to express their dissatisfaction with existing social structures and hegemonic hierarchies of power. Protests have occurred across time periods and contexts, and have taken numerous different forms, ranging from personal expressions of discontent to united movements for revolutionary change. Protests can be individual or collective, personal or political, spontaneous or carefully planned, but they are generally orientated towards destabilising the status quo and establishing new modes of existence. Over the ages, political, social and cultural protests have successfully toppled authoritarian regimes, exposed and confronted dominant imbalances of power, and ameliorated conditions for disenfranchised members of society.


Artistic creation, such as literature, music and film, has sometimes supported hegemonic hierarchies and underpinned restrictive regimes. However, art has also played an important role in protesting against unjust power structures and opposing dominant societal mores. In different times and contexts, the Arts have contributed to the institution of social, political and cultural change by facilitating the emergence of subversive viewpoints and previously silenced voices or subjectivities. In both a candid and a concealed manner, the Arts have functioned as vehicles for challenging societal injustice and expressing individual and/or collective feelings of discontent.


The Society for French Studies Postgraduate Conference 2016 invites proposals for twenty-minute papers in English or French that address the broad theme of protest as it relates to the interdisciplinary field of French and Francophone Studies. Contributions from all periods and disciplines are welcome. These might include literary, film, theatre, music, post-colonial, queer, cultural, spatial and translation studies, to name but a few. Individual papers should aim to examine the ways in which French and Francophone art forms have contributed to political, social, cultural, economic, discursive, personal and collective means of protest in France and the wider Francophone world from the past to the present day.


Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:


  • The French Revolution
  • Charlie Hebdo and freedom of speech
  • Anti-racism protests
  • Humour and satire
  • Gender and sexual rights
  • Religious rights
  • Class-based protest
  • Protest and writing
  • Protest and music
  • The “Arab Spring”
  • Grassroots political protest (i.e. street art, graffiti)
  • Censorship
  • Mass demonstrations, rallies and marches
  • Reactionary protests (i.e. ‘La Manif Pour Tous’)
  • Insurrection and riots
  • Civil disobedience
  • Changing modes of protest
  • Social media and political protest
  • Past forms of protest (i.e. Jacquerie, La guerre des farines)
  • Iconoclasm
  • Protest figures past and present


Registration and catering are free of charge, but speakers are asked to seek financial help from their own institutions to cover travel costs.

Please send abstracts (250 – 300 words) for twenty-minute papers (in French or English) along with the name of your institution, the title of your PhD and your year of study to Kaya Davies Hayon ( and Joseph Ford ( no later than 1 February 2016. Informal enquiries are also very welcome.

Conference organisers: Kaya Davies Hayon (University of Manchester) and Joseph Ford (University of Leeds).

Please visit our blog for further information: