Each year, the Francqui Foundation awards three International Francqui Professor of Chairs, which should allow the stay of a foreign scientist in Belgium for an uninterrupted period of three to six months. Professor William Marx (Collège de France) is laureate of the International Francqui Chair 2021-2022 at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Antwerp. 

Promotor: Prof. Franc Schuerewegen, with the assistance of Maxim Delodder

About prof. dr. William Marx  

William Marx is professor at the Collège de France (Paris), where he holds the chair of comparative literature. His books, translated into a dozen languages, include Naissance de la critique moderne (2002), Les Arrière-gardes au XXe siècle (2004), L'Adieu à la littérature (2005), Vie du lettré (2009), Le Tombeau d'Œdipe (2012), La Haine de la littérature (2015), Un savoir gai (2018), Vivre dans la bibliothèque du monde (2020) and Des étoiles nouvelles (2021). Professor Marx will hold the Francqui International Chair at the University of Antwerp during the fall of 2022. 

In honour of the Francqui Chair, several activities are organised.

13 October 2022: Inaugural conference

World or global literature is now taught in many universities around the world. But is the concept fully satisfactory? Does it not limit our reading, our way of reading itself? The purpose of this conference is to show that the use of the historically determined concept of literature is problematic. Is it possible to go beyond this concept, and the practices that accompany it, and under what conditions?

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14 October 2022: Masterclass - Lost and often found works

William Marx’s 2021-2022 course at the Collège de France centered around “lost works,” as “there are more lost works than there are existing ones.” Coincidentally, an international group of researchers in medieval studies published an important article in Science on the “forgotten books” of the Middle Ages. Here again, the literary scholar is invited to look at what is not or no longer present, but what might be recreated with the help of digital humanities’ tools. October 14, we organize a debate between William Marx, our Antwerp digital humanists, and other guests on this question at the University of Antwerp. The event will be held in English and French.

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16 November 2022: Masterclass - Is there a gay science?

In 2018, William Marx published Un savoir gai. In this essay, he defends the idea that "sex is a mental thing". A gay man thinks gay, a straight man thinks straight. In this masterclass, we propose to establish a dialogue between the ideas formulated by the author of 2018 with a certain Anglo-Saxon tradition, notably with Standpoint Theory (Harding) and queer epistemology (Sedgwick). To do research in gender studies, and perhaps even in general, is to be aware of one's presuppositions, of what is left unspoken, or even forbidden. Is there such a thing as gay knowledge? And if the question must be answered positively, which one?

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17 November 2022: Doctoral Conference - The French Touch in Literary Studies Today

The French Touch: Francophone literary studies today

The language we speak organizes reality, it makes us see things that, if our language had been different, might not have existed. In literary research, where linguistic material is both the means and the object of research, this is obviously crucial. English is hegemonic today. What then is the specificity of a research activity conducted in French by a group of doctoral students who have deliberately and strategically chosen to express themselves in this language? An important part of literary studies, as they have developed over the past decades, is linked to notions and methods that clearly have a « Francophone" background. One need only think of the "signifier/signified" pair (Saussure) in linguistics and literature, of a word like "laïcité" and its sociological implications in a world of super-diversity, of Jacques Derrida's idea of "différance", of what is happening today in the field of "gender" studies, etc. The "French Theory" (Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, Baudrillard) has not finished making news. It continues to fuel debates, it has produced contemporary forms of literary theory, and it is an indispensable working tool for researchers in literature. Three Flemish universities are participating (University of Antwerp, KULeuven, UGent) in our study day. We will discuss ecopoetics, media studies, decolonial studies, queer and gender studies, digital humanities, and much more, all in the language of Molière.

For this study day, aimed at doctoral students, we are pleased to welcome Jean-Louis Jeannelle (Sorbonne) and William Marx (Collège de France) to Antwerp.

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  • 17 November 2022
  • TBA

1 & 2 December 2022: Conference - Comparative Literature and Possible Texts

Comparative Literature and Possible Texts

The starting idea is that the "comparatist", even if he does not always say it in these terms, even if he prefers to speak, using an older vocabulary, of "parallels" and "comparative facts" (what is a fact? vast question...), is also, and perhaps even first of all, a constructor of "possible" literature. William Marx writes: "One could even use the word-valise of probablibraries to designate those sets of texts or occurrences that intervene in a more or less probable way in the genealogy of another text" (Des Etoiles nouvelles, 2021). One dared to imagine, on a day when one had nothing better to do, a "postextual" method where the critic admits without too many scruples that one builds a text with the help of other bits of texts and that reading is another word for inventing. In short, this conference centers around the link that can be established between comparatism and constructivism. There will be case studies, concrete examples, more "theorizing" approaches, and no doubt also frank demonstrations of "interventionist" criticism. "To read is to create in pairs," said Balzac. And another added: "Literature will be made by all, not by one".With the participation, among others, of Nicolas Aude, Maria Cabral, Romain Bionda, Emmanuel Bouju, Karen Haddad, William Marx and the international network LEA ! Reading in Europe Today.

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