“…A hired limousine drove us to Toulouse, careening around the grey block of Carcassonne and through the long unpopulated planes of the Cote d’Argent. The Hotel Tivollier, though ornate, had fallen into disuse…” — Zelda Fitzgerald, “Show Mr. and Mrs. F—to Number—”
When studying sites in France where F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald resided, the southwest of France is often left out in favor of more renowned locales like Paris, Lyon, and the Riviera. Only a few biographers mention their stay in Salies de Béarn, a spa resort in the Pyrenees, in January 1926. According to Zelda, their hotel room was “flush with thin sun rolled down from the Pyrenees,” but both were bored and, after a few weeks there where Zelda took a cure for colitis and Scott wrote two short stories and an essay, they moved on to the Riviera, passing through Toulouse and Carcassonne on the way.
Considering the more peripheral role held by this region in Scott’s and Zelda’s lives and writings, the theme for the conference is “PLACE AND PLACELESSNESS.” As Fitzgerald wrote in the 1930 story “One Trip Abroad,” “Every place is the same…. The only thing that matters is who’s there…. The place itself really never matters.” The topic and quote remind us that the Fitzgeralds never owned a place of their own and conjure up the distinctive motifs of expatriation and exile, moorings vs. wanderings, rootedness vs. aimlessness, location vs. dislocation. Since place can be considered as space invested with personal or collective meaning, its referent is paradoxically bound to be subjective and volatile. The conference theme is also an invitation to explore the role of in-between places in the Fitzgeralds’ works, especially fixed places of transit like hotels, bars, harbors, airports, clinics, as well as mobile spaces like taxis, cars, liners or planes.
This 2019 conference will also be an opportunity to focus on I’d Die for You and Other Lost Stories, a collection of texts that were never published in Fitzgerald’s lifetime nor in later posthumous collections, but which must now find their place within the Fitzgerald canon. France’s long-lasting interest in Fitzgerald’s works led to the quasi-immediate release of a translation of this volume (Je me tuerais pour vous et autres nouvelles inédites, translated by Marc Amfreville. Paris: Bernard Grasset/Fayard, 2017). Because translation is by definition an experience of displacement, often leaving the translator hovering between several texts, alert to the difficulty to pinpoint meaning, the papers focusing on the translation of the Fitzgeralds’ works in various languages will be welcome.
The above suggestions are neither exhaustive as regards the conference theme nor exclusive, as proposals on all aspects of the Fitzgeralds’ lives and works will be considered. As always, we welcome papers on The Great Gatsby (1925) and other classics, but we are also interested in Fitzgerald’s overlooked expatriate stories, such as “Not in the Guidebook” (1924), as well as comparisons/contrasts to other expatriate writers who depicted the Pyrenees.
Our keynote speakers will be Marc Amfreville (Professor at Sorbonne-Université) and Véronique Beghain (Professor at Université Bordeaux Montaigne).
Please send your 250-500 word proposal (noting any audio/visual requests) along with a brief C.V. or biographical statement to our official conference email, firstname.lastname@example.org. THE DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS IS JANUARY 1, 2019. Presenters will be notified of acceptance by February 1, 2019.
The conference director is Pascal Bardet (Jean Jaurès University, Toulouse), while co-program chairs are Elisabeth Bouzonviller (Université Jean Monnet – Saint-Etienne) and Marie-Agnès Gay (Université Jean Moulin – Lyon 3).
PLEASE NOTE: Interested attendees have an option to gather in Paris on June 23 for a special “Babylon Revisited” /Tender Is the Night walking tour.