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Showing posts from May, 2013

Tips for "Learning" French: Or, Who Needs a Teacher?

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Modified Poll: Favorite Christ Figures

In light of one paper on the appropriation of the Christ figure in French literature that I will be presenting at a conference this week, I wanted to ask my hypothetical readers what some of their favorite Christ (or messianic) figures in literature are. This poll works by way of comment rather than clicking on a button in the sidebar. From the obvious to the obscure, from French literature to American literature (or even cinema, if you like), from obvious messianic figures to slightly less clear-cut instances of biblical imagery, if you have any favorite Christ figure(s), let us know.

Cours en anglais, or should I say, courses in English?

So there is this proposed law in France that won't pass but that is highly scandalous in a country that prides itself more than most on its language (which nonetheless we must remember is as "impure" as the next language, and, historically speaking, a creole of Latin in itself...whoops!). The law would promote the teaching of more university courses in English (and some other foreign languages). Whatever one thinks of this, it is a noteworthy point of linguistic history. English has never had the same political backing as French, even in the colonial era, yet it has become the lingua franca at least in North America and Europe if not the world. Sadly, then, the world most certainly does NOT speak French (at least in one sense).

Ten Statements Towards an Understanding of Post-Structuralism

Preparing for the conference next week on Language, Literature, and Religion, I have been spending a good bit of time preparing my presentation on Christian responses to post-structuralism and particuarly deconstruction. It is more complicated for me than my other presentation, which is direct literary analysis. So regarding post-structuralism, here are some guiding ideas I have been articulating for myself, advancing from the simple (and generally accepted) to the more complex (and perhaps more debatable):

1. Post-structuralism is not a critique of structure in itself (i.e., it is not anti-structure). It has its own conceptual structure(s) and one must not conflate structure with structuralism, thus creating a caricature of the latter. Even regarding deconstruction (even Derrida's), it is important to eschew the error of equating it with pure relativism and ultimate meaninglessness. 2. Post-structuralism is a critique of structuralism, which was first and foremost a set of linguist…

Conference on Language, Literature, and Religion

The Conference on Language, Literature, and Religion of Alfa University in Belgrade will take place next week, May 24-25. And Belgrade being only about two hours from Paris by plane, my wife and I will be attending and also presenting at the conference.

Miriam's presentation, "El sincretismo en la literatura latinoamericana," examines the presence and literary development of religious syncretism in the works authors from Latin America and the Caribbean.

I will be presenting two papers on French literature and theory. The first is titled "Christian (Mis)perceptions of and Responses to Post-structural Linguistics and Deconstructive Literary Theory," and the second is "Dechristianization in French literature: A Case Study of the Christ Image."


Houllebecq on Tourist Destinations, Sightseeing

I completely misplaced/lost/threw away a magazine that had an interview with the French writer Michel Houellebecq. I was going to share a quote, but a paraphrase will have to suffice since I cannot find the magazine anywhere, or the interview online.

The only part of the interview that really interested me was Houellebecq's take on tourist destinations. Because this year in France, more than usual, my family and I have had regular opportunities to visit such places. I am referring (as Houellebecq does in the interview) to the monuments, museums, and buildings that are "must-sees," such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona or the Manneken Pis in Brussels.

The problem, and the reason the interviewer asked Houellebecq what he thought about such places and the phenomenon that is "sightseeing," is that we all tend to have this nagging feeling that we are being extremely shallow to want to visit and take pictures only of the things…

2013 Personal Update

I feel a little self-conscious with today's post title, not to say narcissistic. But it's as good as I could come up with, and I felt like writing this even if only for myself. So here is the point to which God has currently brought me in life, the year 2013 being an important transition point.

I can tell my life, or at least career, story in terms of four (or five) universities, and thus maybe give my readers (if I have any) an idea of where this blogger is coming from when he blogs (and why he blogs about languages, literature, linguistics, and God):

Bob Jones UniversityIgrew up in Japan (the son of a pastor) and returned to the U.S. to do an undergraduate degree in journalism and French at BJU. I never intended to stay in the U.S., but my sophomore year, a French teacher, and one of my best teachers ever whose blog you should check out, asked me to consider doing graduate studies in French to replace him at BJU. This was way out of my life plans, until God brought Miriam i…

Comment lire Stello...ou n'importe quel autre livre

L'ironie de cette citation est qu'elle décrit exactement comment j'ai lu Stello (si vous n'avez jamais entendu de ce roman d'Alfred de Vigny, ce n'est pas grave !):
Si votre livre est écrit dans la solitude, l'étude et le recueillement, je souhaite qu'il soit lu dans le recueillement, l'étude et la solitude ; mais soyez à peu près certain qu'il sera lu à la promenade, au café, en calèche, entre les causeries, les disputes, les verres, les jeux et les éclats de rire, ou pas du tout.