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Update on UB Quebec Studies

Fall 2015 – Spring 2016

Academic year 2015-2016

Jean-Jacques Thomas, Associate Director of Canadian Studies for Quebec Affairs and Programs

Although the Quebec Studies budget of academic year 2015-2016 was somewhat limited, it was a busy year for the activities of the Quebec Studies program

We were able to maintain several of our usual activities:

  • – Partial financial support for one graduate students (JJ Thomas’ Quebec Research Assistant Nicole Bojko).
  • Grant for travel to conference to Isabelle Fournier (ACSUS conference in Las Vegas)
  • Conference dinner for five graduate students at ACSUS (Genevieve Oliveira, Isabelle Fournier, Cyndi Jones, Nicole Bojko, Aubrey Kubiak).
  • Annual schedule of an invitation to Quebec personalities and/or specialists :
  1. screen-shot-2015-11-03-at-5-18-25-pmStanley Péan, writer, TV and radio personality, Montreal, Quebec. November 17-19, 2015 October. Stanley Péan was born in Haiti but currently lives and works in Montréal. He has published over 20 books, written both songs and TV scripts, and also has a radio show.


  1. Karen Fricker, Prof. Brock University, for a talk entitled “Spectacular Quebec”, November 12-13, 2016.


screen-shot-2015-11-04-at-2-21-25-pmKaren Fricker teaches in the Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock University. Her research interests include contemporary theatre and globalization; contemporary Québec theatre; popular performances of nation and cultural identities; Irish theatre; and theatre criticism.

She is co-investigator, with Dr. Milija Gluhovic (University of Warwick, UK) of the Eurovision and the ‘New’ Europe research network, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK). Their co-edited volume, Performing the ‘New’ Europe: Identities, Feelings, and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest, will be published in May 2013 by Palgrave Macmillan in the Studies in International Performance Series.

She is finishing a monograph entitled Making Theatre Global: Robert Lepage’s Original Stage Productions, which will appear in Manchester University Press’ Theatre: Theory-Practice-Performance series.

Karen is also a professional theatre critic who has reviewed and broadcast for The Guardian, Variety, The Irish Times, The New York Times, the BBC, and the CBC, amongst other outlets. She is the founding editor in chief of Irish Theatre Magazine.


  1. screen-shot-2016-02-09-at-2-01-49-pmProfessor Karen Fricker, Prof. Brock University, 3rd Annual Big Buffalo Quebec Film Festival, March 30-April 1, 2016.
  • As part of our Community Outreach for Francophone American activities:

Third Annual Big Buffalo Quebec Film Festival, a community organized film event with the financial help of UB, Alliance Française,  Buffalo State University, March 30-April 1st, 2016.

Enjoy two free modern films each day that address a variety of issues of importance to global citizens at the 3rd Annual Big Buffalo Quebec Film Festival. Films will be in French with English subtitles and will show at 6:00pm and 8:00pm on UB North Campus in Woldman Theater (112 Norton Hall) as follows:

Wednesday, March 30th

6:00pm: La Passion d’Augustine

8:00pm: Les Amours imaginaires

Thursday, March 31st

6:00pm: La Famille Bélier

8:00pm: Ce qu’il faut pour vivre

Friday, April 1st

6:00pm: La Face cachée de la Lune

Guest speaker, Dr. Karen Fricker (Brock University), to introduce and discuss the film

  1. 2016 was also an exceptional year of solidification our program as our past hard work was recognized with a “Major gift for Quebec Studies at UB”

In the spring 2016,  eight boxes of books arrived at the UB Library. These books come from the personal collection of Professor Myrna Delson-Karan, a Ph.D. from New York University who has held professorships at N.Y.U. and Syracuse University. She is a Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques awarded by the French Government, a Chevalière dans l’Ordre National du Quebec, and is a former President of ACSUS (Association for Canadian Studies in the United States). Professor Delson-Karan has graciously bequeathed her collection of books on Quebec to the UB Quebec Studies Center on campus.

It is with great interest that Professor Delson-Karan has followed the rapid development of the outstanding program of Canadian Studies created in 2008 by Professor Munroe Eagles (Transnational Studies) and the associated program of Quebec Studies by Professor Jean-Jacques Thomas (RLL). As with the rest of the Canadian Studies specialists in the US, she supported the rise of Canadian and Quebec Studies in Buffalo and took a large part in the decision to make UB the National Headquarters for ACSUS and in the appointment of Professor Munroe Eagles as current President of ACSUS.

The gift of her Quebec library to our UB Quebec Studies program reflects her appreciation of the the superior quality of our program as well as a recognition of the fact that in just a few short years we have become a national center for the preparation and training of future graduate and undergraduate leaders in Quebec Studies. The members of the Quebec Studies program at UB are immensely grateful to Professor Delson-Karan for her gift which shows great respect and confidence in our academic program as well as the development of Quebec Studies in the US.

Update on UB Quebec Studies
Fall 2014 – Spring 2015


In the fall 2014 we invited a well-known Quebec poet with an international reputation for two events on the UB campus; this was a joint project with the Poetics Program of the English Department. Gaëtan Brulotte is a novelist, playwright, and Distinguished Professor at the University of South Florida. He is known across the world for his literary contributions including publishing over 15 books and receiving the French honor of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques.


His Ph.D. was written under the guidance of acclaimed critic Roland Barthes, and his dissertation jury consisted of Jean Bellemin-Noël and Julia Kristeva, philosopher and feminist writer. Gaetan Brulotte gave a reading of his texts and a presentation of the French influence on Quebec’s literary trends in Dr. Thomas’ graduate seminar on Tuesday September 30th. In conjunction with the Poetics Plus program, Gaëtan gave a talk in English on Wednesday October 1st at 3:30pm at the Poetic Collection lecture room in Capen 420, entitled “The Poetics of the Short Story in Quebec: the first 150 years”.


bbqff-2015-poster-jpeg-663x1024With the help of the Quebec Studies group on campus in May 2014 we created the UB Big Buffalo Quebec Film Festival that took place in the film festivals series in Buffalo and since it had been well received, this May 2015 the Quebec Studies program with the help of Nicole Bojko, Assistant for the Quebec Studies Program, proposed the Second Big Buffalo Quebec Film Festival which took place Wednesday April 29th – Saturday May 2nd, 2015. We were very pleased to discover that this second edition attracted an even greater audience than the previous year.  The festival is held in the Screening Room at the Center for the Arts (CFA) on the UB Campus. All films are screened in French with English subtitles.

The highlight of the Festival was the presence of Dr. Germain Lacasse, a Quebec Film specialist from the Université de Montréal. He gave a talk in Dr. Thomas’ Graduate Seminar on Tuesday April 28th  on the cinematic differences that exist for the Quebec film studios when they produce a film for the Francophone audience and when they produce a film for the Hollywood international film industry (photography, lights, use of the dolly, special effects, etc.). He gave a public talk on Orality and Quebec Cinema (in French) on Thursday, April 30th at 6pm in 904 Clemens Hall. We were able to make this second BBQFF into a community outreach event with, in addition to the UB leadership, the participation of both Foreign Languages departments at Canisius and Buffalo State.

Update on Quebec Studies
Fall 2013 – Spring 2014

Prof. and Associate Director of CSAP Jean-Jacques Thomas

The past year has been a busy and highly successful one for our Quebec Studies program.

First, the Quebec Studies program at UB now has a physical home. After two years of preparation, Clemens Hall 902 was designated as the “Quebec room.” The room was remodeled and a standard meeting room with new furniture, portable audio-visual equipment (video projector and light screen) as well as telephone and computer equipment on a small desk for the QS Assistant, was installed. Also, a new window was created between the room and the corridor. Work and furnishing took place during fall and spring semester while courses and meetings were also already taking place in the room. Three posters sent by the Quebec Délégation Générale in New York were framed and now hang on the walls of the room. The result is a very modern, professional and comfortable home for Quebec Studies on theUB campus.


Quebec Studies Center – 902 Clemens Hall


Quebec Studies new home at UB. Assistant Quebec Studies desk in Quebec Studies Center

From the inception of the Quebec Studies project at UB it was understood that, in order to establish a durable presence of Quebec Studies on the UB campus, a certain portion of the funds, in addition to office and meeting space, should be used to create a web presence of Quebec Studies on the UB web site. Last year an independent contractor prepared a prototype of the future web site. Her general design and site architecture were approved by Canadian Studies and this year, with the new budget, it became the responsibility of the web group at the College of Arts and Sciences at UB to actually construct and manage the new web site. The site was completed in early March, just in time for the ACQS Outreach Seminar. All evaluations of the final site were extremely positive and we are most happy to have this new bilingual (French and English) communication tool at our disposal as it places Quebec Studies at UB on a global internet platform (

In addition to the return visit of the Québec digital poet David Jhave Johnston to the Electronic Poetry Center (Media Studies), most Quebec activities for the year were regrouped on the occasion of the annual American Council for Quebec Studies (ACQS) Outreach Seminar that took place on the UB campus with the collaboration of Prof. Eileen Angelini of Canisius College. Because the funding at Canisius College was cut and thus Canisius, unlike last year, could not organize the Quebec Film Festival, it was decided that UB would organize the spring 2013 version of it. We also had the UQĂM-UB conference “On the Waterfront” in preparation for the spring 2013. However, at the ACQS meeting in Sarasota (Florida) in the fall 2012, Jean-Jacques Thomas was asked if UB would not, instead of the “On the Waterfront” Conference, organize the annual ACQS Outreach Seminar since UB had the budget to organize an international conference in the spring. By November 2012 it was agreed that UB would host the ACQS annual Outreach Seminar by the end of March 2013 and not the Conference “On the Waterfront”.


A local committee devoted to the organization of the ACQS Seminar was set up and the planning was put in place for this Western NY community outreach activity. In short order it was approved by the board of ACQS. Also, since we had to change the framing of the Conference it was locally decided that during the same semester that we would be hosting a national conference we would not organize the Quebec film festival that we had intended to launch during the spring at UB. Instead, we decided to include the visit of a well-known Quebec director, Louis Belanger, as part of the ACQS Outreach Seminar.

On March 22-23, UB organized the 2013 ACQS Outreach Seminar. Several lectures and workshops were offered with the following local and national leaders in the field of Quebec Studies or representatives of the Quebec oriented professional organizations and representatives of the Quebec government. Participants included:

Louis Bélanger, Film Director, Québec

Francesca Bourgault, AIEQ, Québec

Ginette Chenard, Raoul-Dandurand Chair, UQAM

Myrna Delson-Karan, President ACSUS, CUNY/ Queens College

Christian Flaugh, SUNY-Buffalo

Emily Hall, West Seneca Senior High School

Patrick Hyndman, Délégation Générale du Québec à New York

Jane Koustas, Brock University

David Palmieri, SUNY-Plattsburgh

Raymond Pelletier, Canadian-American Center,

University of Maine – Orono

Amy Reid, President ACQS, New College of Florida

Mark Richard, SUNY–Plattsburgh, Vice-President ACQS


In all, 45 people officially registered and 5 additional people attended and received name tags. This included 11 undergraduate and 10 graduate students from UB. We had a request for 27 “Professional Enhancement” certificates that would cover mostly teachers. We had 13 official guests involved in the event. By all reports the Seminar was considered a well-planned event with a rich array of activities focusing on all levels of the US education system. Participants were happy to discover the variety and quality of Quebec activities taking place on the UB campus and, in particular, national representatives remarked the vitality of Quebec Studies among our Ph.D. candidates. After the event we received many compliments including this from a member of the ACQS board: “At our recent ACQS board meeting, I heard rave reviews of the Outreach program that you organized in Buffalo. Bravo… and thank you.”

Last year the Quebec Studies program was successful in attracting a PIRQ grant from the Government of Quebec. This year the allocation was used to support Nicole Bojko who, during the full academic year, was the Research Assistant (RA) for Quebec Studies. Also, PIRQ funds supported the Summer research trip of Nicole to Montréal to research the impact of French existentialism upon Quebec intellectualism in the 60’s and 70’s with the hope that her Ph.D. research on French Existentialism will include a special Francophone option (Quebec). UB Quebec Studies supported Nicole Dunham’s trip to Vancouver in the summer to the 2013 annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Victoria, BC, Canada on June 1st; Nicole Dunham studies the writings of Quebec writer Ying Chen. As Ying Chen and Dany Laferrière were the guests of the Congress, she also took this opportunity to interview both of them. Finally, Quebec Studies awarded a summer research fellowship Study Abroad stay in Montréal to Elizabeth Robinson so that she could attend the celebration of the 350th year of the arrival of the Filles du Roy. As Elizabeth is studying 17th century transatlantic relations, she wanted to attend the presentations and exposés in Quebec City at the end of June, meet the current researchers on this important New  World event, and potentially acquire some primary sources for her own research.

Currently, in the USA, only UCLA and UB train graduate students with a sub-specialization in Quebec Studies. Through yearly programs and specialized accelerated programs, we hope to train MA and Ph.D. students who will be able to offer a Quebec component in their future institutional teaching all over the US. It is encouraging to us to remark that, already today, after a only a few years of offering a solid and diverse Quebec Studies option at UB, two of our graduate students (Isabelle Fournier – for the second time — and Valérie Hastings) were asked by a Canadian University (Brock – Ontario –) and Niagara University (NY State) to offer a course on Quebec. One of our graduate students is the teacher assistant for Quebec studies at Canisius College (Aubrey Kubiak) and another is teaching Quebec Studies as an interim teacher at SUNY – Fredonia (Cindy Jones).


Jean-Jacques Thomas (at right) presents Ray Pelletier (University of Maine, Orono; second from left), Retiring Executive Director of ACQS, with Certificate of Appreciation, Buffalo, March 2013.


Participants enjoying a session at the ACQS Workshop held in Buffalo on March 22-23rd, 2013. Professor Jean-Jacques Thomas, the event’s organizer, is on the left.

(2012 – 2013)
Update on Quebec Studies
Fall 2012 – Spring 2013

 Prof. and Associate Director of CSAP Jean-Jacques Thomas

During the fall of 2010 Canadian Studies wrote a grant proposal for a prestigious PIRQ grant, a major grant given by the Quebec government to a US University. In the spring of 2011 we received word from the New York Quebec Délégation Générale that our grant proposal
had been chosen by the Quebec government for an award. We received the full amount requested ($20,000) for two academic years (2011-2013). In the fall of 2011, Alain Olivier (Director, Communications, Government Relations and Academic Affairs, Québec Government Office in New York) came to UB to deliver the 2011-2012 check and to meet with Munroe Eagles (Canadian Studies), Jean-Jacques Thomas (Associate Director Canadian Studies for Quebec Affairs and Programs) and Laure Bordas (Graduate Assistant to the Quebec Studies program).

Thanks to the award, academic year 2011-2012 was rich in Quebec related activities. During the international colloquium Oulipo@50 organized by the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and the Melodia E. Jones Chair, we were able to invite Dominique Raymond, professor at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières who gave a talk entitled “Etre et ne pas être une contrainte : L’étrange cas du Canada-dry” ( ). Jean-Jacques Thomas traveled to Ottawa to the 2011 ACSUS Biennale Conference (November 16-20) where he met with several representatives of the Quebec government including Maryse Gaudreault who represented the Québec Ministère des Relations Internationales.

During the Digital Exhibit “Language to Cover a Wall” organized at the UB Center for the Arts by Prof. Loss Glazier (Visual Studies) and The Poetics Program, Québec Studies sponsored a two week visit at the UB EPC by the Québec digital poet David Jhave Johnston who, on February 4, 2012, during the “Digital Poetry Spectacular” presented several of his extraordinary digital creations ( In February, as part of our partnership with Canisius College, we contributed to the “2012 Canisius College Québécois Film Festival” organized by Prof. Eileen M. Angelini. On Wednesday, February 8, Jean-Jacques Thomas presented the film Aurore directed by Luc Dionne and UB Quebec Studies sponsored the visit of Prof. Michel Vigneault (Université du Québec à Montréal) who presented the film Maurice Richard by Charles Binamé (Prof. Vigneault was an adviser on the set of the film devoted to the legendary hockey player who brought the Montréal Canadiens to an unrivaled record of five consecutive Stanley Cup Championships).

As part of the Francophone community outreach, this year, the PIRQ award was used to sponsor the annual Excellence in French Studies Competition on Saturday, March 31st. The competition attracted 14 students from across Western New York who completed a rigorous French dictée excerpted from the famous novel Les Misérables (V. Hugo). The winners were: Elizabeth Baker, first place, of Clarence High School, Niamh Durfee, second place, of City Honors School at Fosdick-Masten Park, and, Jonathan Er of Williamsville East High School, who shared third place with Allison Gillet of Starpoint High School. The winners were invited to attend the commencement ceremony of SUNY at Buffalo’s Department of Romance Languages and Literatures on May 11th.

One activity that is part of the description of the PIRQ involves student support; the PIRQ allocation was used to support Laure Bordas who, during the full academic year, was the Research Assistant (RA) for Quebec Studies. Also, PIRQ funds support the Summer Study Abroad stay at Université Laval in Québec by Nicole Lucey. At Laval, Nicole is enrolled in the graduate program where she will familiarize herself with Québec history, culture and literature with the hope that her Ph.D. research will include a special Francophone option (Québec).

(2011 – 2012) 
Update on Quebec Studies
Fall 2011 – Spring 2012

 Prof. and Associate Director Jean-Jacques Thomas

The academic year 2010-2011 was the last year of a three-year cycle devoted to the preparation of a visible, active and academically sound program for research and teaching about Quebec on the UB campus.

Since the creation of Canadian Studies in the fall of 2008, and the simultaneous incorporation of a Quebec Studies component within this new general academic unit, our goal has been to establish a leading, sustainable and well recognized program. The effort was two-pronged: first, to identify UB scholars who carried out research on Quebec who would comprise a local research committee; second, to secure multiyear funding for activities centered on short visits by scholars from Quebec who shared common research interests with our UB faculty and to create a funding mechanism to support short visits by meritorious undergraduate and graduate students in Quebec. Thus we could offer competitive scholarships for studies involving Quebec.

In the fall of 2008 we invited Ms. Le, the representative of the Québec Délégation Générale in New York, the North-East head office of the Quebec provincial government. After meeting with her we wrote a PIRQ grant (Quebec Research Initiative) which was not successful but which gave us valuable experience and insights into grant writing for the Quebec government.

Parallel to this institutional administrative activity, UB maintained research activities related to Canada and Quebec. In particular, in the following year many Canadian and Québec speakers participated in the international colloquium “Urbanités Littéraires//Cityscapes-Literary Escapes” organized on the UB campus in the fall of 2009 (September 10-13). The goal of the conference was to study the relationship between writing and the urban environment, and to specify interactive engagements between literature, architecture, and urbanism. Because the government of Québec and the city of Montréal have made an innovative effort to devise an ambitious architectural and urban program to develop the city’s aging architectural patrimony in a way similar to the situation here in Buffalo, we were able to discuss the renovation of Montréal harbor (“le vieux port et le canal de Lachine”) and its similarity to Buffalo’s waterfront. Professor. Simon Harel from UQAM and Domenic A. Beneventi from CELAT-UQAM were key speakers at the colloquium. Their presence permitted discussion of a possible institutional exchange agreement between UB and UQAM. During the summer of 2010 a formal agreement between the two institutions was signed by the Presidents of both universities with the help of the Office of the Vice-Provost for International Education at UB. In the spring of 2010, the UB program in Québec Studies collaborated with the Albright-Knox Museum when it offered an exhibit dedicated to the avant-garde Québec literary and artistic movement “Les Automatistes.” UB proposed readings of the Automatistes authors at the Albright-Knox Museum and on campus and supported the visit of Quebec and American scholars for a cycle of conferences on the plastic merits of this genuine North American art movement of the 50’s.

In the spring, also, Jean-Jacques Thomas wrote a grant proposal for “Program Enhancement” that was submitted to the Québec government. The grant was awarded in the fall of 2010 and gave Québec Studies at UB the necessary budgetary footing to create and enhance Quebec activities on the UB campus, as well as to foster the necessary visit of Quebec scholars interested in academic programs similar to those offered at UB. In the spring of 2011 the Quebec Studies program invited Prof. Josette Féral, Chair of Theater Studies at UQAM, to talk to the UB administration and faculty about possible exchange and joint programs for research and theater production, both here in Buffalo and in Québec.

Feral’s visit lead us to formulate several concrete ways to offer student exchanges starting in the academic year 2011-1012.

In the fall 2010 Jean-Jacques Thomas had written a new PIRQ proposal and it was announced in late spring that UB had been granted a two-year $20,000 PIRQ by the Quebec government. As a result of this felicitous news, in the spring of 2011, Jean-Jacques Thomas went to Montréal to discuss with the UQAM official representatives, Simon Harel and Josette Féral, possible research and teaching projects starting with the new academic year. Several areas of immediate joint development were considered: theater studies, geopolitical water issues, cinema studies, artistic exhibits and computer generated graphics.

On September 27th, 2011, Alain Olivier, Director of Communications, Government Relations and Academic Affairs, will visit the UB campus and meet with Stephen C. Dunnett (Vice-Provost for International Education), H. Lorraine Oak (Associate Dean CAS and Director Canadian American Studies Committee), Munroe Eagles (Director Canadian Studies), Laure Bordas (Graduate Assistant for Québec Affairs) and Jean-Jacques Thomas (Associate Director Canadian Studies for Quebec Affairs and Programs).

The Quebec Studies group wishes to thank Stephen Dunnett, Vice-Provost for International Education, Lorraine Oak, Director of Canadian-American Studies Committee and Munroe Eagles, Director of Canadian Studies, for their continued assistance in making Quebec Studies at UB a reality. As we start the new academic year with solid funding, we look ahead to contributing markedly to UB excellence, international presence and a sustainable capacity to enable our graduate and undergraduate students to reach their goal of acquiring an outstanding education in an increasingly global world.

(2010 – 2011)
Canadian Studies: Report on Québec related activities
Fall 2010 – Spring 2011

Prof. and Associate Director Jean-Jacques Thomas

Activities focused on Québec formed an integral part of the offerings by the Canadian Studies Program during this past academic year. The Québec program is in its second year of development, and since academic programs are usually given three years to prove that they can develop into a sustainable permanent unit with a rich program of activities and a large supporting group, our activities were ambitious, numerous and wide-reaching.

A new grant proposal (―Program enhancement‖) was written for the Québec government for competition within their annual cycle of support of programs within the United States. We are still awaiting the results. The purpose of the grant is to support teaching and learning activities on a regular basis on the UB campus and within the Buffalo community. This includes courses, cultural activities and a recur-rent cycle of visits by Québec specialists in several areas that are covered by UB academic offerings.

In the fall, 2009, the Office of the Vice-Provost for International Education, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Architecture and Planning, the Departments of English, Visual Studies, Romance Languages and Literatures, Comparative Literature, the Canadian-American Studies Committee, the Melodia E. Jones Chair and the European journal Formules sponsored an international bilingual colloquium (―Cityscapes -Literary Escapes‖ / ―Urbanités lit-téraires‖) devoted to the study of the interaction between architecture/ urban planning and literature/social writing. Several literary scholars and urban planners from Canada and Québec spoke at the conference. Simon Harel, a social and humanistic scholar at UQAM, was one of the four key-speakers and proposed a plenary talk entitled ―”Laisser-aller: l’itinéance et l’espace contraint dans L’Homme-boîte de Kobo Abe et City of Forgetting de Robert Majzels”. Daniel Lafor-est (University of Alberta), Anne Lesley Selcer ( Simon Fraser Uni-versity), Domenic A. Beneventi (CELAT – UQAM), Roxanne Rim-stead (Université de Sherbrooke), Emma Hunt (Writer – Toronto), Sima Godfrey (University of British Columbia), Sherry Simon (Concordia University) spoke on different aspects of the relationship between writing and urban environment in Québec and Canada.

In the spring of 2010, with the support of the Association Internationale des Etudes Québécoises, the Canadian-American Studies Committee in partnership with the Melodia E. Jones Chair collaborated with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery to offer an exhibit devoted to the Québec avant-garde movement ―Les Automatistes‖. In conjunction with this exhibit, numerous activities took place on campus and at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. In particular, on March 17th UB organized a bilingual lecture by Thierrry Bissonnette, a noted Québec writer and poet, entitled ―Actualités et intempestivité de Refus Global‖ [Legacy and Untimely Actuality of the Automatistes‘ Mani-festo] on the UB campus for the undergraduate and graduate literature students; his talk was presented in simultaneous translation by Christian Flaugh (Romance Languages and Literatures, UB).

On March 19 in the main auditorium of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, UB proposed a reading of several texts by the major ―Automatistes‖ writers. Ray Ellenwood, an international scholar specialist of the ―Automatistes‖ and translator of their texts directed a panel of UB readers (―Automatistes in (Con)Text‖) to read texts in French and in English (Karen MacCracken, Valérie Hastings, Steve McCaffery, Jean-Jacques Thomas). On April 23, at the ―Symposium‖ at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, UB sponsored a presentation on the visual plasticity of the ―Automatistes‖ by the well-known Québec art critic Gilles Lapointe (UQAM).

To show the presence of UB scholarship on the area of Québec studies, in October, at the ACSUS in San Diego I presented a talk devoted to the Québec poet Joel des Rosiers entitled ―Coke en stock, ou les soutes de Metropolis.‖ The talk was devoted to Des Rosiers‘ volume of poetry Métropolis-Opéra (1987), a lyrical chronicle of his arrival in Montréal as a young Haitian immigrant and his subsequent success as a poet and respected international psychoanalyst. In March 2010, at the 27th International Colloquium of XX/XXI-Centuries French and Francophone Studies in Toronto I gave a talk entitled ―La filière nord-sud: Haïti-Québec au quotidien‖. The goal of the talk was to show how the migratory flow between Haiti and Québec has changed in the last twenty years, in particular as represented in the work of the Québec writer Dany Laferrière who recently received the prestigious literary prize Médicis in Paris (2009).

In the fall 2009, the Association Internationale des Etudes Québécoises included the Québec program of Canadian Studies at UB as one.

Finally, in June 2010, after a series of previous discus-sions, Claude Corbo, President of Université du Québec à Montréal sent a protocol of agreement for a large exchange between UB and UQAM to President Simpson. The signature of this agreement would offer UB the possibility in the next three years to develop students and faculty exchanges as well as joint projects that would build a solid bridge between Québec and WNY and would bring the Québec Studies program of the Canadian Studies at UB.

(2009 – 2010)
Update on Quebec Studies
Fall 2009 – Spring 2010

Prof. JeanJacques Thomas, Melodia E. Jones Professor of French, Associate Director of Canadian Studies for Québec Programs and Affairs

Since I arrived at the University at Buffalo last August, my main activity has been to create the necessary conditions to develop an active and sustainable Québec Studies component to the newly created academic Canadian Studies program. The effort was two pronged: first, to identify UB scholars working on areas of research involving Québec to create a local Québec research committee; second, to secure multi‐year founding for activities primarily involving short visits by Québec scholars involved in research related to the interests of our local faculty and to create a small fund to support summer or short stays in Québec of carefully selected undergraduate and graduate students so as to assure that we are able to offer competitive scholarships for studies involving Québec. After a series of discussions and the campus visit in the fall by Ms. Le, the representative of the Québec Délégation Générale in New York, the Northeast head office of the Québec provincial government, it was decided that the writing of a competitive PIRQ grant (Québec Research Initiative) was the best way to accomplish both goals. With the collaboration of Profs. Ruth Bereson, Director Arts Management Program University at Buffalo, Michel Bruneau, Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, Brian Carter, Dean of UB School of Architecture and Planning, Christian Flaugh, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and Deborah E. Reed‐Danahay, Department of Anthropology, I wrote a PIRQ grant proposal ($50,000) to get us started. The proposal went through the regional selection and made it to the final committee in Montreal. Unfortunately, three other proposals from the Northeast region were funded. During the feedback discussions we learned that our proposal written to give UB the means to initiate a sustainable and operational relationship with an institution of higher education in Québec, was not funded because priority was given by the selection committee to US programs which proposed using the PIRQ to extend or enhance bilateral existing relationships between them and their Québec counterparts and research partners. After further discussion it was decided that I would write several other smaller grants during the 2009-2010 academic year with the purpose of developing a preferred direct bilateral relationship with a Québec School or University within a framework that eventually would lead the UB administration to enter into an exchange agreement that would help us develop a new PIRQ proposal in 2011, one that would include an existing collaboration with a specific Québec institution of higher learning. Parallel to this institutional administrative activity, I maintained my own research activity related to Canada and Québec. In particular, my area of studies focuses on Québec as a rapidly developing pluralistic North American society, ethnically and economically diverse which is quickly transforming itself from a rural and agricultural community into an urban (metropolitan) society expanding its interests in the domain of world energy/environment and the entertainment industries. Such a radical and fast transformation from a community known for its cultural particularisms (Frenchspeaking, Catholic) within the NorthAmerican communities to an active participant in the international “mondialisation” (globalization) is particularly evidenced in the recent Québec cultural productions (art, film, literature), as the new participants in this cosmopolitan and ethnic transformation are eager to have access to a symbolic means of communication to allow their emerging voices to be heard. At the biennial Conference of the American Council for Québec Studies in Québec (November 13‐16, 2008) I gave a speech entitled “Montréal tropicalisé par Dany Laferrière.” The purpose of the talk was to outline why the Haitian‐born Québec writer Dany Laferrière claims that he is not a Haitian nor a Québec writer, nor a “black writer from Québec” but simply an “American” writer and to show how, in his novels and films, his Caribbean imagination “tropicalizes” Montréal by transforming it in a warm and humanely calorificient environment that facilitates the insertion of a transplanted tropical population. In his 1984 novel, as a new migrant who just moved to Montréal, Laferrière experiences the human warmth that surrounds him, makes him sweat, transforms the air into a furnace and the environment into a tropical forest. The symbolic transformation proposed in the novel is similar to what Salman Rushdie describes a few years later in his novel The Satanic Verses for the experience of his two newly arrived Indian migrants to London; a metaphorical construction that was highly praised by the post‐colonial Anglo‐Saxon critics such as Homi K. Bhabha and Leela Gandhi. For the special issue on Caribbean immigration in North America of the literary journal of the University of Puerto Rico, Romanitas, I wrote an article on the Haitian immigration to Québec entitled: “La filière américaine nord‐sud: Haiti‐ Québec au quotidien.” I compared it to the Asian immigration to Toronto and the immigration from the French Caribbean islands to Paris using a few of the operative concepts of the dependency theory by Ramon Grosfogel. For a forthcoming special issue of the journal L’Esprit Créateur (Johns Hopkins University Press) devoted to the North American poetician Michael Riffaterre, I contributed an article entitled “’Texts’ and ‘Documents’ in Light of Riffaterre’s Pragmatic Poetics.” The essay focuses on the case of the 1979 internationally acclaimed novel Pelagie‐la‐Charrette by the Acadian writer Antonine Maillet. The basic thematic element of this fiction is the 1755 British organized massive deportation of 12,000 Acadiens (“Le Grand Dérangement”) from what is now Nova Scotia and their relocation as “servants” on farms in the thirteen lower colonies, which are now the eastern states of the US (the very topic of the epic poem Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow). The novel is now often quoted as if it were an historical document on the deportation and relocation of the Acadians. While historical documents convey information in a clerical manner and generally have a low dose of poetic function, it is impossible to read a literary text exclusively for its thematic or ideological content and to ignore the over‐determining role of the poetic function. Literary texts are constructed according to an ensemble of rules, principles and specific devices that make texts “literary.” The recognition, identification and intelligibility of these specific processes are an important part of the pleasure of reading. The overwhelmingly literary nature of Maillet’s text, its rhetorical devices and its linguistic manipulations, would absolutely prevent the informed reader from seeing it as a document with any historical value. So why do historians read this text more and more as if it were a transparent, literal report written by an objective chronicler of the observed facts? Because Antonine Maillet has chosen to write a literary piece, and not a document, she deliberately takes the side of literary dramatization over historical fact and, as a result, the text contains three important historical mistakes: the very circumstances of the Grand Dérangement for the characters of the story, the place of the main deportation and the dates during which the return to Acadia takes place. Each mistake should be seen as a result of a conscious literary choice: dramatization of events, length of the narration, and complexity of the plot as well as character development. With the help of Profs. Laura Chiesa (RLL – Italian), Justin Read (RLL, Spanish) and Christina Milletti (English) as members of the Organizing Committee, I am preparing an international bilingual colloquium entitled “Urbanités Littéraires // Cityscapes – Literary Escapes” that will take place on the UB campus in the fall 2009 (September 10‐13). The goal of the conference is to study the relationship between writing and the urban environment, and specify interactive engagements between literature, architecture, and urbanism. We have planned eight academic panels that include the following themes: Wandering ; Windows/Doors/Entrances/Corridors; Utopia and Dream Cities; Streets/Boulevards/Avenues; Towns / Suburbs / Slums / Countrysides; Silos / Warehouses / Industrial Wasteland; Writing the City; Bridges / Arcades / Underground. The top contributions from the conference will be published in issue 14 (2010) of the European journal Formules (Journal of Formal Creation). Although the topic is not specifically devoted to Canada or North America (we have speakers coming from all over the world) Canadian Studies is a co‐sponsor of the Colloquium because it will in great part focus on the recent transformation of the major Canadian cities into metropoles and the urbanistic problems posed by such a metamorphosis. In particular, because the government of Québec and the city of Montréal have made an innovative effort to devise an ambitious architectural and urban program to develop the city’s aging architectural patrimony in a way similar to the situation here in Buffalo, we have invited four speakers from Québec to participate in the fall colloquium. They are specifically looking at the situation of the renovation of Montréal harbor (“le vieux port et le canal de Lachine”) and its similarity to Buffalo’s front lake and how Montréal converted several grain elevators (celebrated in the book Vers une architecture by Le Corbusier, as one of the great North American architectural achievements) into the new Montreal Museum of Modern Art.

Professor Simon Harel from UQAM will be a key speaker at the colloquium and on Friday September 11 he will talk about the organization of public spaces and civic life in today’s Montréal where so many sites of public architecture are planned (Square Emilie‐ Gamelin, Quartier des Spectacles, etc.) to transform the city into a multitude of artistic installations so as to create a NorthAmerican “cultural metropolis.” Domenic A. Beneventi from CELAT‐UQAM will talk in one of the eight panels about “Poverty on the Peripheries” or how the legacy of XIXth Century city planning in Québec and in Canada created a “geography of containment” with factories and worker’s quarters situated at the margin of the “city” and how this historical exclusionary practice operates today in the construction of a Canadian spatial and civic imaginary; Roxanne Rimstead from the University of Sherbrooke will talk about the fascination for “slum novels” as a new form of “descente aux enfers/ Inferno” in the imaginary contemporary Canadian literature of Janet Wong, Juan Butler, Alan Mettrick, Roger Lemelin, Gabrielle Roy, etc.Sherry Simon from Concordia University will talk on how the urban space of “Mitteleuropean” cities such as Trieste, that new migrants Canadian ported with them as a symbolic representation of an urban space, was effective in mapping connections and disconnections onto the geography of the cities of the new world; Sima Godfrey, Director of the Center of European Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, will talk about the metaphoric value of bridges in communal and literary discourses. We will also include several Canadian scholars in our program that have answered our call for papers and are proposing architectural papers devoted to specific urban issues in Canada. We hope that this important Canadian and Québec presence on the UB campus at the occasion of the fall Colloquium will help us to create and enhance needed links with scholars and institutions on the other side of the border and we thank the Canadian‐ American Studies Committee for its support.

(2008 – 2009)
Thoughts on Coming to Canadian Studies at UB
Fall 2008 – Spring 2009

Dr. Jean-Jacques Thomas Associate Director for Québec Affairs and Programs, Canadian Studies Academic Program; Melodia E. Jones Chair, Department of Romance Languages & Literatures

When I came to the US as an exchange faculty member from the Université de Paris-8 to the University of Michigan, two members of my extended family were already living in Canada, one was a teacher of French in a high school in Toronto and the other was working in the public relations office of Hydro-Québec in Montréal. This is not my only Canadian family. The connection with Canada is a much older one than that. A few generations earlier my family had split into three branches and left its home in the Austrian mountains as the younger members of the family decided to follow the fortune of the Napoleonic wars; first successful in expanding revolution and democracy in Europe and then, after the adventurous campaign of Russia, retreating to the west of Austria and then to France. Our branch settled on the French side of the Swiss border, but two brothers of my ancestor decided to continue west. They crossed the Atlantic and then both crossed to the American continent. One settled in what is now Oakland in California and the other settled on the Pacific Northwest in British Columbia and founded the village of Ladner, the namesake of my mother’s family, now a suburb of Vancouver. Because the family always cultivated its international ties (the brother who is at the origin of the French branch was the eldest) I grew up in France always knowing that I had family in Vancouver and Canada was thus not a far away distant country for me. As a matter of fact, when I was growing up in the North of France, paradoxically, the foreign country closest to my town was… Canada. I grew up in Arras and 11 miles north of it is the Memorial and Cemetery of Vimy, a hilly ridge where the Canadian army fought courageously during WWI and where 66,000 Canadian soldiers lost their lives in the defense of France. As a result, the land has received an extraterritorial status and is administered by Canadian authorities.
Thus, probably, the first foreign flag that I saw as a child was the Canadian flag as the Vimy area with its trenches and war relics is a necessary school field trip to remind us of the foolishness of mankind. My first semester as a visiting faculty member at the University of Michigan, I attended a colloquium at the University of Toronto where I met several Canadian colleagues. The following years I made several trips to Ontario and Québec and I took a long trip that took me backpacking through the Parc des Laurentides and visiting the Roche Percé in Gaspésie, a natural wonder celebrated by my home town French poet Yvan Goll. When I became Associate Professor at Duke University in the early 80’s I discovered that there was a very active Canadian Studies program on campus. It was surprising given the distance away from the Canadian border, but I soon learned that there were historical reasons for its existence. After 1905, the tobacco industry revenues of the Duke family were stagnant and the family patriarch decided to invest in the energy industry, in particular electricity. Because the tobacco industry is not simply an agricultural industry and needs factories to manufacture its products, very early the Duke family had to build small energy plants (based on coal) to provide the necessary energy needed for its factories. The Duke family wanted to diversify and they moved into hydroelectricity which led them to Québec and the Saguenay valley and the area of Lac St Jean, an option made possible after 1880 by the construction of the Québec-Lac St Jean railroad. As documented by David Massell’s book, Amassing Power, by lowering the price of energy, after 1914, the Duke family was able to attract other industries such as DuPont to the area and to start the industrialization of Québec. When, in 1924, the Duke family offered to Trinity College, located in their hometown of Durham, North Carolina, a $40 million endowment to create, among other institutions, Duke University, the relationship with Canada and Québec was well-known and a secondary series of endowments were created in the 1970’s to support an active and international Canadian Studies program. Richard A. Preston, William K. Boyd Professor of History, was its first Director and helped create the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States of which he was the first President. Within this favorable intellectual and institutional context, in 1987 I initiated a faculty exchange with UQAM and, for three years, Gilles Thérrien came to teach Québec literature and history at Duke and I lectured at UQAM in the Ph.D. program for semiotics. In 1991, while I was Chair of the Department of Romance Studies, it was decided that all Ph.Ds students with a specialization in Canadian Studies should be bilingual in French and an accelerated track was created to facilitate their access to functional French. In 2004 I became Director of Canadian Studies at Duke and established a graduate and undergraduate student exchange with the Université de Montréal in addition to the already existing linguistic exchanges with UQTR and McGill. Because of my interest in Québec and Cinema Studies, in 2005 I created the Québec Cinema Week at Duke. Each fall we received Québec directors and writers such as Denis Chouinard, Dany Laferrière, Louis Bélanger, Denis côté, etc. and, for a week, every day, there was the showing of one or two Québec films on the Duke campus.

In 2006, the Québec Government elevated its Atlanta financial mission to the status of Délégation Générale and with the help of this newly active presence of Québec in the south of the United States, we were able to coordinate visits by writers such as Marie- Célie Agnant, or artists to the Duke campus as well as other southern campuses. While UB does not yet have the financial resources and the tradition associated with Canada that were available at Duke, the neighboring presence of Canada and its economical, social and cultural importance for the western part of New York should be an incentive for a strong, active and internationally recognized Canadian Studies.

During my campus visits earlier this year I was impressed by the dedication of the UB administration, at all levels, towards a conscious development of international studies and in particular its willingness to increase institutional exchanges and resources with Canadian and Québec institutions. The recent creation of the Canadian Studies Program under the dynamic leadership of Munroe Eagles as well as the agreement with Brock University are certainly tangible manifestations of the institutional desire to take full advantage of this border situation and to rapidly assume a leadership role in Canadian Studies in the US.

Independently from my institutional involvement with the UB Canadian Studies Program, I will continue to be a member of several Québec governmental organizations for cultural and educational development and to be an active member of ACSUS and ACQS. I am also involved in my own research in my secondary field of Québec studies. Trained as a linguist with a specialization in semiotics and poetics, I have written on Québec poetry, literature, film (Emile Nelligan, Gaston Miron, Joël Des Rosiers, Dany Laferrière, etc.) and more generally on the new “ethnic Québec” and its current move away from “particularism” to “pluralism.” I also expect to offer courses on Canada and Québec , both in French within my department of Romance Languages and Literatures and in English within the Graduate Certificate in Canadian Studies; in the past, at UCSB as well as Duke, I have offered courses on « Francophonie au Nouveau Monde / New World Francophonie,» « Etudes Québécoises Québec Studies, » « Québec Film / Cinéma québécois » as well as to contribute to the organization of colloquia and lectures on Canada and Québec. It is thus with great anticipation that I prepare myself, starting this fall as Melodia E. Jones Chair, to be part of an important and stimulating new beginning for Canadian Studies at UB.

“Newest Jones Professor plans literary endeavors, Quebec studies”

UB Spectator By ANN WHITCHER-GENTZKEPublished: October 1, 2008