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Roundtable on Literary Studies in the United States

Par Christine Froula : Professor of English - Northwestern University , Sandra Gustafson : Professor of English - University of Notre Dame
Publié par Marion Coste le 12/09/2019

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Christine Froula (Northwestern University) and Sandra Gustafson (University of Notre Dame) were guest lecturers at the ENS de Lyon in May 2019 and participated in a roundtable on Literary Studies in the US today. The roundtable was moderated by Vanessa Guignery and François Specq, both Professors at the ENS.
With (from left to right):
Vanessa Guignery (ENS de Lyon)
Sandra Gustafson (University of Notre Dame)
Christine Froula (Northwestern University)
François Specq (ENS de Lyon)


Introduction 00:07
I. On recent developments in American Literature Studies 0:51
II. On the job market in the US and the importance of associations 12:13


  • Literature is increasingly studied through the prism of gender studies in France. Are gender studies analysed more in the sociology department in the US, or are they related to literature studies?
  • Are there any postcolonial programs in the US, or is that field divided into African-American studies, Native American studies, etc?
  • (to Sandra Gustafson) You are one of the editors of the latest version of the Norton Anthology. Could you tell us what the options were and what was at stake?
  • (to Christine Froula) Would you say that Modernism is also defined by anthologies?
  • Within the field of comparative literature, are there any periods that are studied more than others?
  • English majors in the US seem to have more job opportunities in terms of diversity, whereas in France, the only option for English majors is to go into teaching or research. What do your English majors do after college?
  • What is the state of Ethics Studies in the US, and more particularly Vulnerability Studies?

Further analysis

  • [1min00→4min08] One of the most striking developments since the 1980s is the division of American literature into subcultures:

    - Creation in 1990 of the Society of Early Americanists.

    - Creation in 2010 of the Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists (C19) with a Journal, J19.

    There is no organisation for later Americanists, because it is the area that has the most job opportunities and that students are more naturally drawn to.

  • [5min13→5min52] The intersection of the scholarly treatment of literature with creative writing programs is one of the recent changes in English departments. 

  • [10min47→11min52] There have been recent developments in the Modernist field:

    - Creation of the Journal Modernism/modernity in 1994.

    - Annual conference of the Modernist Studies Association (MSA).

  • [28min08→30min18] Sandra Gustafson worked on the 9th edition. It is based on what instructors look for and use in class, and it is both traditional (author sections with extensive footnotes) and flexible (creation of shorter thematic sections, such as "Slavery and Race", which has become central in the American canon). She has added a new thematic section, "Varieties of religious expression", which includes Puritan, Quaker and Catholic writers.

  • [36min43→40min32] On comparative literature, Christine Froula refers to the example of Medieval Studies and explains the differences between the US and Europe. The requirements have become more interdisciplinary and less language-based nowadays.

Pour citer cette ressource :

Christine Froula, Sandra Gustafson, "Roundtable on Literary Studies in the United States", La Clé des Langues [en ligne], Lyon, ENS de LYON/DGESCO (ISSN 2107-7029), septembre 2019. Consulté le 25/05/2024. URL: https://cle.ens-lyon.fr/anglais/litterature/litterature-americaine/roundtable-on-literary-studies-in-the-united-states