Two members of the French and Francophone Studies faculty recently presented papers at the annual Nineteenth-Century French Studies Colloquium in Sarasota, Fla.
Visiting Assistant Professor Kasia Stempniak presented “‘Un féerique incendie de tons’: Technology and Fashion in Loïe Fuller’s ‘Serpentine Dance’” She discussed how in 1892, the American-born dancer Loïe Fuller premiered her dance at the Parisian music hall the Folies-Bergère and quickly became a global celebrity. Stempniak described the kaleidoscopic colors and shapes created by Fuller through choreographed movements of her long, flowing dresses and the carefully engineered stage lighting that enchanted writers and artists alike.
Bringing together Fuller’s memoirs, her understudied patents filed in Paris, and her unpublished notes on radium and phosphorescent substances inspired by her friendship with Marie Curie, Stempniak argued that Fuller’s dance created a new visual paradigm that not only revolutionized dance, but also early cinema, especially Georges Méliès’ féerie films.
Professor of French Cheryl Morgan presented “Tales of Sex and the City: Jeanne Landre’s esprit de Montmartre” in a round-table session devoted to women writers’ engagement with the conference themes of enchantment and disenchantment. She examined Landre’s literary engagement with Montmartre in light of the now familiar mythic depictions of the celebrated and notoriously naughty Parisian neighborhood.
Known in her time as the “romancer of Montrmartre,” Jeanne Landre (1874-1936) provocatively exploited the poetic license and freer sexual geography of Montmartre to carve out space for the circulation of women’s desires and to plot a greater range of experiences in and of the city for women on all rungs of the social ladder.
Morgan said that while Landre’s tales promote a familiar and enchanting image of a Bohemian Montmartre inhabited by unconventional creatives, petty criminals, and prostitutes, their esprit also projects a different state of mind that puts Montmartroises at the heart of these tales of sex and the city.
The colloquium also drew other members of the Hamilton community. Keenan Burton ’16, now a doctoral candidate in French at Washington University in St. Louis, presented “Tahitian Love under the British Raj: The Illusion of Enchantment in Delibes’s Lakmé.” It was his first public presentation in the profession. Hamilton in France professor Claire Barel-Moisan spoke on “Spectacles du merveilleux scientifique.”