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A common theme will run through the 2018-2019 academic year. Or should we say ‘un fil rouge’? In a period of increasing Anglo-Saxon dominance - including in the world of academia, VUB wants to put the spotlight on France and French culture. Is it all down to the Enlightenment?
Professor Daniel Acke is a lecturer in French literature and culture at the Literature and Philosophy faculty. Along with Lynn Tytgat, coordinator of VUB’s weKONEKT.brussels programme, he’s leading the organisation of the French Year, or Année de la France à la VUB en 2018-2019, to give its official name.
“The French Year is an existing concept; on this occasion, the French embassy is organising it with VUB. For a whole academic year, we will make French culture and the various institutions that promote it, such as the Alliance française and Agence universitaire de la Francophonie, better known among the university community. On campus and further afield, and among all our faculties. It will also strenghten the bonds of cooperation between VUB and France for professors and researchers, as well as through student exchanges.”
Lynn: “There is alos a long-term vision. The aim is not to have all these events during the academic year. Through the project we aim to put research centres in contact with each other with a view to building partnerships for the future. We also hope that, thanks to the French Year, students will become more interested in French culture and history.”
From Pompidou to Madame Moustache
There will be academic activities for students, as well as the general public. Daniel: “At VUB, for example, we’re planning lectures about the French literary canon, alongside a seminar in the Kanal Centre Pompidou with my colleague Hans De Wolf about the artistic canon. There is also a study day about Freemasonry, with a comparison between the French and Belgian Freemasons.”
Lynn: “Lecturers will give lessons with a French approach that connects with the programme. If there are lecturers who don’t have such an approach but who still want to get involved, we can give them ideas. For the public activities, we’ll be working with partners and institutions in Brussels, including the new Kanal Centre Pompidou museum, the museum of Freemansonry and the Passa Porta house of literature, known for its festival taking place every two years. There will also be more relaxing activities. For a week in March, the VUB restaurant will have typical French dishes on its menu. And in the first week of April, during the weKONEKT.brussels week, KultuurKaffee and Madame Moustache are organising an evening in which young, up-and-coming French musical talent will be invited to play, followed by a DJ.” Certain academic activities such as the Literature and Philosophy faculty’s graduation will have a French flavour thanks to French music, which can also be heard during the academic opening ceremony.
Enlightened thinking and cycling
VUB’s participation in the French Year is no coincidence. Daniel: “There are quite a few connections with France. The Enlightenment and the French Revolution are the foundation of VUB’s values. Free thinking has a historical philosophical link with France, and our motto is borrowed from Henri Poincaré. This historical link will also be addressed during a lecture in the Senate, organised by the Law faculty.”
Lynn: “To close the French Year there will be a conference in the context of the Tour de France, which starts in Brussels in 2019; the theme is ‘science and cycling’. More information will be available during the academic year.”
An overview of all the activitie and more information about the French Year can be found on vub.be