This is the central site for a long-term project to research, examine, and respond to the radical collective of writers, theorists, architects, and visual artists who operated in Paris between 1829 and 1835 under the names of the Jeunes France & the Bouzingo, and through them to build a critical understanding of French Romanticist subculture through the historical lens of a continuing politically vigilant Anglophone avant-garde.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nov. 2012: Bouzingo-Related Classes, Research, Book, & Exhibition

Although the last update was over a year ago, progress in this project has not been stopped; on the contrary, there has been so much activity that there has been no time for an update. Most of you who have been following or contributing to the project have been privy to his activity, so I shan’t spend much time going over it again. So onward with several current updates:

I (Olchar) have been co-teaching a course entitled ‘Liberté: France in the 19th Century’ (history, literature, sociology, art, philosophy, etc.) with Brian Counihan at Community High School, an alternative school in Roanoke, VA. The educational model and the level of engagement by students has made it possible to present a complex and comprehensive picture of 19th Century French culture, including the mass of underground, alternative, esoteric and subversive traditions that boiled underneath ‘official’ culture and politics—we’ve been able to do more with this course than we’d have been able to do for many a college course. Needless to say, this class intersects greatly with the Bouzingo research; this month students will begin reading Gautier, Nerval, Borel, O’Neddy, Bertrand, Brot, and studying the Devérias, Boulanger, and Nanteuil. At the same time, research for the class has turned up new resources and new understandings for ongoing research into Frenetic Romanticism. Getting these online and, later, into print form will be a gradual process.

Alongside that class, and intersecting with it, is a parallel version of the class taking place through the Star City Shadow School, a loose DIY educational collective in Roanoke, VA. Hosted on THIS BLOG, the project combines pedagogy with research, involving independent researchers and interested people from all backgrounds and across North America and Europe, and is conceived similarly to how I would like to see the Bouzingo project function: participants follow along in the text being used by both them and the high school students, discuss the readings on the blog, and—most importantly—use these texts and discussions as jumping-off points to conduct their own small research forays into areas which interest them, exploring a wider network of alternative practices and communities than would be possible in a traditional ‘class’. Participants read and respond to as much or as little of the material as their other commitments allow—there is no ‘credit’, no evaluation, no minimum or maximum involvement, and my role is that of mediator rather than ‘instructor’. Anybody interested in the Jeunes-France, and especially in the historiographic model that we are attempting to explore, is encouraged to join in at any time!

Both the High School and the Shadow School versions of the ‘Liberté’ class share a four-volume series of anthologies or readers that I am assembling specifically for them; Vol. I and II are available now in printed format or as Free PDFs (links below). The other two volumes are currently under preparation. These books contain relatively short passages (few complete texts, unfortunately) by a large number of people. Vol. II, which was completed a few weeks ago, stretches to 450 pages, and includes a representative sampling of work by the Jeunes-France and their camarades, some of it translated for the Bouzingo project. All told, it includes over 150 pages of memoirs, poems, stories, prefaces and manifestos by the first generation avant-garde, and much more material that fleshes out their broader context, much of seeing print in English for the first time in over a century. Both volumes are available as physical books at printing cost HERE, or download FREE PDFs of Vol. I (1770-1825) and Vol. I (1825-1848).

Finally—and also related to the Liberté project—I am currently hanging an exhibition of drawings, prints, and books from my micro-Archive of 19th Century Counterculture at the Liminal Gallery, CHS’s art space in Roanoke, VA. This will include original drawings and prints by Achille Devéria, Célestin Nanteuil, Napoleon Tom, Paul Gavarni, and Gustave Doré, and over 30 books by the 19th Century avant-garde, some available for perusal (when their condition allows). There will also be a mini-library of more than 100 recent books and translations of counter-cultural work from 19th Century France, for use by students and gallery visitors. I am currently producing wall-placards with contextual material about the work exhibited and about the role of archiving and historiography within underground traditions, and an extensive exhibition catalog. (For an idea of what will be included, see the ‘Physical Archive’ tab above; the page is roughly 90% up-to-date, though not everything listed there will be included in the show.) 

The exhibition will run from Nov. 14-Dec. 21, with a costume opening Dec. 7 to which attendees are invited to become Classicists or Romanticists, and heckle each others’ poetic and dramatic readings. It is rumoured that a bust of Racine might be danced around. Other lectures and discussions will be held in the gallery during its run, including a storytelling-lecture on avant-garde Romanticism, lecture/discussion on Fourier and underground organising, and share-and-tell of both the visual work and the books displayed.