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Department of French and Italian

French Interdisciplinary Group

The French Interdisciplinary Group (FIG), founded in 1996, has two interrelated goals: first, to promote and facilitate collaborative research between Northwestern faculty and French scholars in all fields, and second, to encourage interdisciplinary research and teaching of all aspects of French culture and society.

The Group is one of a dozen or so interdisciplinary centers (or "centres d'excellence") in the US supported by the French government (along with Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, NYU, Princeton, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, UCLA, and Yale). Over 50 faculty members in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences, and the professional schools, and a similar number of graduate students are affiliated with the group.

Recently, FIG received a $100,000 grant from the Florence Gould Foundation to support its activities. It has also received generous support from the Grand Marnier Foundation. The Group is supported regularly by the French government and by Northwestern University.

In december 2001, FIG helped organize a three-day workshop in Materials Science that brought together researchers from France and Northwestern as well as from other institutions in the mid-west. FIG also hosted the Scientific Counselor to the French Embassy in Washington, Christine Bénard, who visited various labs and met with NU scientists in order to discuss ways for increasing collaboration between NU and France in different areas of science and technology. A delegation from the Université de la Mediterrannée (Aix-Marseille II) came to campus in February as guests of FIG to discuss exchanges and collaborative research in different areas of science and engineering. In May 2002 FIG hosted Général de Nomazy, the President of the Ecole Polytechnique and Roland Sénéor, responsible for the school's international relations. They met with President Bienen and other university officials as well as with scientists in different fields. In June FIG hosted Marie-Christine Imbert, responsible for international relations at INRIA (the French national center in charge of developing research in applied mathemtics, information technology, and automation.

FIG organizes on a regular basis "Lunch and Causerie," a series of informal talks in English on different aspects of French culture. Causeries take place on Thursdays from noon to 1:00 and lunch is provided. Past Causeries included a talk by Christian DeVos, Dean of Culinary Arts at Kendall Collegeabout food and gastronomy in French culture; Bruno Palier from the Centre d'études de la vie politique française, who discussed reforms in the French welfare state; and Eric Klinenberg of the Sociology department who talked about the distinguished sociologist Pierre Bourdieu who died recently.

In February, FIG hosted the French Consul General in Chicago, the Honorable Dominique Decherf who gave a lecture entitled "A World War of Religion and Its Peace: A French perspective." The lecture was followed by a reception and a small dinner hosted by President Henry Bienen. In May FIG organized a lecture by Régis Michel, Chief Curator at the Louvre, entitled: "Videomasks: Western Monsters."

During Spring break 2002, FIG organized a week-long series of seminars and lectures on the general topic "Family, Sexuality, and the Law." REMI LENOIR Department of Sociology, University of Paris-I and Center for European Sociology, CNRS; RACHEL FUCHS of the Department of History, Arizona State University; PATRICE MANIGLIER, Department of Philosophy, University of Paris-X; MARCELA IACUB, a jurist at CNRS and Center for Historical Research, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales; and MICHAEL LUCEY, Departments of French and Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley gave morning seminars to a group of 22 Northwestern graduate students from different disciplines and afternoon lectures which were open to the public. This series of lectures and seminars was made possible by the generous support of: The Program in Critical Theory: The Center for Law, Culture, and Social Thought; Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences; the Office of the Vice-President for Research; the Center for International and Comparative Studies; the departments of French and Italian, History, Philosophy, Sociology and the Program in Comparative Literary Studies. FIG is planning a week long institute for the coming academic year on the topic: "Languages and Nationalities."

FIG has initiated an undergraduate--and now a graduate--students' exchange with "Sciences Po" and with the help of the Assistant Dean for International Studies developed the European Union program for undergraduates which started in Fall 2001. It initiated an exchange with the Ecole Normale Supérieure, rue d'Ulm and is now developing exchange prgorams with the Ecole Polytechnique and with the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Lyon.

For Upcoming Events and for more information about FIG consult our webpage or contact one of the co-directors:

Michal P. Ginsburg, Professor of French and Comparative Literature; and Chair, Department of French and Italian

Michael Loriaux, Associate Professor of Political Science
Center for International and Comparative Studies