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Queer Theory and Academia: The Case of France in an International Frame

This event took place on 14 December 2013. For a Storify narrative compiled from live-Tweets of the day's proceedings please click here. Please also read our disclaimer about this mode of dissemination. An edited volume of articles based on selected papers from this and the other project workshops is currently under preparation.


Compared with Britain and the US there are strikingly few researchers based in France who would think of themselves as working in, or with, queer theory. This workshop seeks to investigate what can be hypothesized as a resistance to queer theory from within the French academic establishment. The workshop will ask why there has been relatively little progress to date in establishing LGBTQ studies on the kind of secure institutional footing in French academia which they have long enjoyed in other national contexts. The workshop will ask whether such resistance to queer theory can be accounted for, as some have suggested, in relation to other systemic resistances, in particular to interdisciplinarity and cultural studies. It will reflect upon the gains and losses which institutionalization within academia involves.

Force est de constater que très peu des recherches universitaires actuellement menées en France se réclament de la théorie queer, par rapport notamment aux Etats-Unis et à la Grande-Bretagne. Cette journée d’étude aura pour but de discuter l’hypothèse d’une résistance à la théorie queer de la part de l’Université ainsi que des autres institutions de recherche en France. Pourquoi y a-t-il eu relativement peu de progrès vers l’institutionnalisation des recherches LGBTQ en France ? Comment expliquer ce décalage et devrait-on le comprendre comme un retard par rapport à d’autres contextes nationaux ? Si les études LGBTQ, comme certaines l’ont proposé, ne sauraient se penser indépendamment de l’interdisciplinarité et des cultural studies, la faible implantation de ces approches dans le paysage universitaire français suffit-elle à expliquer ce décalage ?


Saturday 14 December 2013, Warwick University (Scarman House)

10.00 Registration and coffee

10.30 Welcome and Introduction (Oliver Davis & Kayte Stokoe)

10.40 Lara Cox (Paris 7 – Diderot), ‘Queer’s “Arrival” in France and Contested “Origins”: François Cusset vs. Marie-Hélène Bourcier’ (Chair: Oliver Davis)

11.00 Claire Finch (Paris 8 ­– Saint-Denis), ‘Queer Translations: Two cases of the production and interpretation of queer theory in France in the early 2000s’ (Chair: Oliver Davis)

11.20 Ilana Eloit (Paris 8 ­– Saint-Denis), ‘La construction du sujet politique lesbien et les mises en crise du sujet féministe en France: Un point de départ instructif? (1970-1981)’ [paper in French with slides in English] (Chair: Oliver Davis)

11.40 Questions and discussion following the first three papers (Chair: Oliver Davis)

12.00 Break

12.15 Round table 1: The Work of Marie-Hélène Bourcier (influences, strategies, effects), with Marie-Hélène Bourcier, Lucille Cairns (Chair), Lara Cox and Kayte Stokoe

13.15 Lunch

14.15 Emily F. Henderson (Institute of Education, London), ‘Room for Queer? Visiting Gender Spaces in the French Academy’ (Chair: Kayte Stokoe)

14.35 Oliver Davis (Warwick), ‘The Institutional Entrenchment of Queer in the French Academy: an état présent with a new-universalist analysis of ambivalence about futurity, expertise, theory and “neo-liberalism”’ (Chair: Kayte Stokoe)

14.55 Questions and discussion following first two afternoon papers (Chair: Kayte Stokoe)

15.10 Joint keynote session by Sarah Schulman (CUNY) and Marie-Hélène Bourcier (Lille 3): ‘The Queer University in France and the USA: a transatlantic exchange about queer activism and the politics of institutionalisation between Marie-Hélène Bourcier and Sarah Schulman’; questions and discussion (Chair: Oliver Davis)

16.30 Break

16.40 Round table 2: The Place of Queer (Theory) in the (French) Academy (pedagogies, theories and the international dimension), with Marie-Hélène Bourcier, Lucille Cairns, Oliver Davis (Chair), Cristina Johnston, Katharina Karcher, Cath Lambert and Maria do Mar Pereira.

17.40 Final plenary discussion with close by 6pm.

Live-Tweeting and Storify

We experimented with live-Tweeting this event and collating those Tweets into a Storify narrative. Please also read the disclaimer about this form of dissemination.