International Colloquium and Call for Papers Announced

Colloquium graphic

The International Colloquium « BUFFALO: Transatlantic Crossroads of a Critical Insurrection » organized by the Humanities Institute and hosted by the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University at Buffalo - SUNY will take place on October 18-20, 2018, at the Buffalo Marriott Niagara Hotel near the University's North Campus.  It will will be held concurrently with an exhibit of the documents related to the history and the development of this new intellectual trend in the many humanities Departments at the then “University of Buffalo." 

Register Now

Colloquium Background and Purpose

BUFFALO: Transatlantic Crossroads of a Critical Insurrection

North American International Colloquium on Continental Theory (and its Future) as the last global Western epistemology.

In May 2018, all over the world, French and Francophone scholars are celebrating the official 50th anniversary of the "May 68 Events," a student and popular uprising that marked the coming of age of the baby boomers and the transformation of post-war France from a mostly rural and agricultural traditional society to an urban and consumer-oriented modem society. In the conclusion of his comprehensive chronicle and evaluation of this historical happening, Laurent Joffrin states that May 68 was not a "failed revolution" but a "successful uprising" which expanded the scope of French culture, philosophy and social contract into a progressive and transformational era. The upgrading of the French and Francophone university system, the beginning of “free radios" and the multiplication of the cultural "talk-shows" away from the traditional and somewhat conservative "France-Culture" monopoly, the arrival on the scene of the socially progressive publisher Le Seuil, the opening of other new publishing houses releasing texts by new sociologists, philosophers and anthropologists, the publication of new daily newspapers with cultural and intellectual supplements, all that coupled with the emergence of an attuned cultural generation moving away with "new" ideas ("New Wave”, “New Novel”, “New Philosophy", etc.) created the making of a Humanism highly influenced by the advances in social and anthropological sciences and led to the incubation of a new French and Francophone intellectualism that reached out to all continents.

In the 70's and 80's it progressively found its way to the United States and Canada under the general label of “Continental Theory." The French journals Tel Quel and Change became mandatory readings in the French and Francophone Departments; progressively writers such as Butor, Robbe-Grillet, Sarraute, Wittig, and Simon were invited to speak on US campuses, rapidly followed by Sollers, Cixous, Kristeva, Todorov, etc. and a cohort of linguists such as Benveniste, psychoanalysts such as Lacan, Pontalis, Guattari, and a flock of philosophers: Foucault, Derrida, Serres, Ricoeur, Baudrillard and Deleuze, etc. The continental invasion was not limited to the two coasts. As a matter of record the traditional Ivy League Schools resisted this continental invasion and the main propagandists of this new French humanism were found in the Midwest: The University of Wisconsin, the University of Nebraska, the University of Michigan, and the University of Minnesota, only to name a few. The University at Buffalo was a great place for this new generation of French intellectuals to visit: traces are found in our local archives of the extended visits by writers, poets, philosophers, film makers and feminist intellectuals: Michel Foucault, Michel Serres, Louis Marin, Michel Deguy, Max Milner, Danièle Huillet, Michel Butor (Mobile ends "at home": Buffalo!), René Girard, Hélène Cixous, etc.

This North-American Colloquium will encourage the dialogue between invited guests who will bring testimony of the many aspects of the "Continental invasion” and many other invited guests who will be present to discuss both the historical beginnings of this new epistemological trend in US intellectualism and the current version, XXth century avatar of the new progressive and liberating Humanism.

It is not the purpose of the organizers to limit the Conference to an historical reminiscence about these exceptional "good old days", but to foster a collegial dialogue about the positive aspects of this historical trend and to favor a discussion with current and future scholars about the active legacy and future of the intellectual movement that searches its roots in a very different epistemological era and thus should reassess its relevancy and engage in a salutary work of critical appraisal if it wants to remain pertinent.

Since the event takes place in North America, it will also be the occasion to emphasize the current divergences that do exist between the current European version and its current vulgate in the US and Canadian universities as well as to assess the actual impact that this historical intellectual trend may or may not have on current questions dominating the English-speaking humanistic academic world or to consider the links that exist with this past and the current artistic and literary movements that mark North American Modernity.

Call for Papers

Proposals for papers are hereby invited. Papers are allotted 20 minutes for presentation followed by 10 minutes for discussion.

Aspects that can be examined are:

•           Lacanian interpretation of the self

•           Deleuze and Rancière conception of the image.

•           American « New Novel »

•           The NYU (Beaujour-Doubrovsky) development of the concept of "autofiction" vs. autobiography

•           Semiotext(e) artistic anamorphosis

•           Kristeva' s intertextuality.

•           French and American Feminism

•           Deconstruction and its legacy

•           Derrida today

•           Lyotard vs. American Postmodern

•         French, Francophone and European authors, poets, writers, intellectuals in residence at Buffalo and in US universities

•           Contemporary US literary theory in the tradition of Marx and Freud

•           Is there a French contemporary theory still influencing US epistemology?

•           Georges Bataille and its legacy for "interpretative communities" and literary interpretation as "free market of ideas"

•           Foucault and queer theory

•           The US publishing industry after the rise of the "Continental Theory"

•           Sartre's Orfeo Negro and its posterity: class struggle vs. identity literature

•           Formalism and Neo-Formalism in the US

• Etc.

Please submit your abstract (400 words max.) stating the title of the paper, name(s) and affiliation(s) of the author, and email address, to:


Deadline for abstracts: June 8, 2018. Selected papers will be published electronically on line on our local webzine and will appear in printed form in the proceedings of the Conference.

Conference Sponsors and Organizers

University at Buffalo Sponsors:

Humanities Institute
Department of Comparative Literature
Department of English
Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
Eugenio Donato Chair of Comparative Literature
Melodia E. Jones Chair in French  


David Johnson, Rodolphe Gashé, Shaun Irlam (Department of Comparative Literature); Laura Chiesa, Fernanda Negrete, Jean-Jacques Thomas, (Department of Romance Languages and Literatures); Carine Mardorossian, Christina Milletti (Department of English). Vincent Broqua (Dpt. of Anglo-American Studies, Univ. of Paris-8)