The Walter Mangold Trust Fund

Promoting International Peace and Understanding through the study of foreign languages

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Reflections - Prof J-M Roulin

Reflections from the 2017 Walter Mangold Trust Visiting Fellow, Professor Jean-Marie Roulin


It is a great honour for me to have been granted the 2017 Walter Mangold Fellowship. This fellowship has given me a unique opportunity to meet with Australian students and scholars and to discover the stimulating academic and cultural life of Melbourne. Above all, I have been afforded the chance to work further in the spirit of Walter Mangold’s legacy, reminding us that better understanding between peoples could be achieved by improving communication between them, which means learning languages, literatures and cultures of different countries.

The CASS Foundation, which remarkably implements this legacy in supporting travels and exchanges of students and scholars entrusted me with a great responsibility. I was more than happy to accept this task, since my teaching and research is dedicated to improving student’s knowledge, languages and cultures of Europe and the world. In my field of research, I am particularly focused on migrations, and on literary and cultural exchanges between France and other countries, during the period between Enlightenment and Romanticism.

During my stay, I gave several lectures as part of courses on French Romanticism and Realism, in Melbourne and in Sydney. Students were wonderfully receptive and curious to discover French authors and eager to discuss their books and ideas. I also animated workshops for advanced students and colleagues, from the French studies section and from other schools or programs. I focused my reflections on issues raised by migrations. A lecture at the Alliance Française in Saint Kilda was the occasion to disseminate to a broader public the activities of the CASS Foundation and to think on historical issues. In the Walter Mangold 2017 Lecture, which was a particularly exciting event, I developed a reflection on how we should find a balance between the need of a common communication language and the vital necessity to preserve the diversity of languages and strengthen knowledge.

Formal and informal discussions have been a very important and rich part of my stay. Discussions with the members of the CASS Foundation about the goals of the Foundation, meetings with colleagues on scientific projects or on teaching issues were occasions to think about how we can improve our reflections and the implementation of Walter Mangold’s agenda. I had also the occasion to speak with students, and to consider further exchanges between Australian and French Universities, for instance through joint PhDs (“Co-tutelles”).

Ormond College offered me an exceptional environment: a lunch was organized at which I was asked to present my topics of research and discuss with students and tutors. I was invited to attend a session of the “Poetry project”, where we discussed all together two French poems (Lamartine and Verlaine), and debated on the issues of the translation.

Melbourne has a particularly lively cultural life, and I was happy to attend to the staging of a Feydeau’s Comedy, and to visit the sites and the museums, in particular the NGV. In this concern, I have obtained a better understanding of Australia, knowledge I will share with my French students, as the scope of my stay was to improve and refine a reciprocal knowledge.

This grant offered me an exceptionally rich opportunity of exchanging ideas and points of views. I am extremely grateful to the Walter Mangold Trust Fund. I would like to thank also the Faculty of Arts, the School of Languages and Linguistics, and all the colleagues of the French studies section, particularly Professor Véronique Duché and Dr Bertrand Bourgeois, for their warm welcome and for all they did to make my stay in Melbourne such a fruitful and productive experience. A special thanks to the whole Engagement team, in particular to Emma Sekuless for her kind and efficient readiness in organizing my stay and in making it so enjoyable.

Professor Jean-Marie Roulin October 2017.