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April 25, 2002 Symbols and displays of royal power still hold allure



French researchers

(click to enlarge)

On the balcony of the Samuel Bronfman Building, left to right, Benoît Bolduc, Lyse Roy, Hélène Visentin, Marie-France Wagner, Provost and Vice-Rector Research Jack Lightstone, Pierre-Louis Vaillancourt, Daniel Vaillancourt and Alain Laframboise.

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

by Barbara Black

The recipients of one of the largest research grants in the humanities ever awarded to Concordia held a reception April 19 to celebrate the launch of their project.

GRES stands for Groupe de recherche sur les entrées solennelles au 16e siècle, and will study the evolution of royal processions in French towns between 1484 and 1615. The full name of the project is Le spectacle du pouvoir : les entrées solennelles des rois dans les villes françaises au XVIe siècle.

Professor Marie-France Wagner, of Concordia’s Département des Études françaises, is the principal investigator in the project, which has received a $1.6-million grant over five years from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

The collaborators are:

Benoît Bolduc, professor of literature in the French department of the University of Toronto, who will focus on the theatrical aspect, notably theories of representation, poetry and rhetoric.

Lyse Roy, professor of modern European history at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), who specializes in the inter-relations between the universities and cities of 16th-century France.

Hélène Visentin, professor of French literature at Smith College, U.S.A., who studies various aspects of theatre.

Marie-France Wagner, Concordia, who has been studying royal processions, the “theatricization” of the city, symbols of royal power, and social representations.

Pierre-Louis Vaillancourt, professor of literature in the French department of the Université d’Ottawa, who specializes in European political thought and is interested in the power relationships of social groups.

Daniel Vaillancourt, professor of literature in the French department of the University of Western Ontario, who has worked for several years on the intellectual conditions surrounding the urban centres of the 17th century.

Alain Laframboise, professor of art history at the Université de Montréal, who studies the links between art and theatre, particularly the evolution of urban festivals. He specializes in the Italian Renaissance.

GRES has a number of other scholars, as well, including two post-doctoral candidates, Louise Frappier (Concordia) and Alexander Nassichuk (Western), five doctoral students (one from Concordia, two from UQAM and two from Toronto), and eight master’s students (three from Concordia, four from UQAM and one from U de M).

In the course of the project, Marie-France Wagner and her colleagues will also collaborate with the Université de Paris X-Nanterre, the Université François-Rabelais de Tours, the University of Pittsburgh, UQAM and the Office of the Secretary to the Governor-General of Canada (Heraldry Directorate).

Lest anyone think that 16th-century French kings are an irrelevant topic, master’s student Audrey Nanot was quick to point out in a conversation at the reception that the display of state power in public never loses its allure.

Nanot, who grew up in France, plans to do her thesis on modern journalism and its coverage of politicians. She pointed out that only last week, in the course of the French presidential election campaign, prime minister Lionel Jospin was spattered with ketchup. The incident will go right into her research.