AHRC Literature under Constraint Network

About the Project

In recent years, arguments about the decline of French literature in terms of readership and quality have become ever more prominent in France. Some commentators have echoed Philip Roth’s pessimistic views that in 30 years, there will be as many people reading serious fiction as now read Latin poetry. Others have bemoaned the fact that the current literary field lacks writers with intellectual clout such as Gide, Valéry and Sartre. Just as there have been major changes in terms of global politics and technological advances, the production of literature has evolved considerably in France over the last 30 years. The 'Literature under Constraint' (LUC) project examines these changes in relation to various factors. Specifically, the LUC project assembles a cutting-edge network of researchers and stakeholders (publishers, writers and librarians) from the UK, Europe and North America to investigate how literary production in France from 1980 to the present has been shaped by political, cultural and socio-economic constraints. To do so, the project will develop a robust methodology that combines textual analysis with sociohistorical study. Over the course of 18 months, the network will assemble a cross-disciplinary research team that includes experts in French literature, sociology and related fields (translation studies, book history). The research team will meet for three study days to examine evolutions of style and genre with respect to the shifting constraints on writers. The aim is to elucidate which factors (mind-sets, political context, social environments, intermediaries) shape and constrain literary production, but also to explore whether constraint bolsters creative activity.

AHRC Research Networking Grant
£37,824 for 18 months, start date 2 October 2017

Project Leaders

Principal investigator: Dominic Glynn, IMLR
Co-investigator: Sébastien Lemerle, Université Paris Nanterre

Advisory Board

Catherine Davies, IMLR (Chair)
Charles Forsdick, Liverpool
Jean-Michel Gouvard, Bordeaux
Duncan Large, BCLT
Samantha Rayner, UCL
Philippe Roussin, CNRS
Hervé Serry, CNRS