U.Va. Conference April 15-17 to Examine Victor Hugo and Exiled Writers

April 07, 2010
April 7, 2010 — Victor Hugo and other exiled writers are the focus of the annual Müller Colloquium, sponsored by the University of Virginia's Department of French Language and Literature in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

"'When Freedom Returns': Exile for Victor Hugo and Other Engagé Writers," April 15-17, will bring together U.Va. scholars, experts from other institutions and students to discuss how exile affected the work of Hugo and others who were either forced into or who chose exile because of their ideas.

The conference is free and open to the public.

Events kick off with a special performance by internationally known composer and singer Alain Lecompte, who will present his one-man show "Hugo Live" on April 15, 6:30-8 p.m. in the University Chapel. Lecompte sets Hugo's poems to original music to tell the story of Hugo's life as a famous poet and social critic. He performs his show in standard French; an accompanying program in English is provided to explain the songs and story line. Lecompte has performed this show in numerous cities including Paris, Montreal, Damascus, Syria, and Washington, D.C.

On April 15 at 9:30 a.m. French Department chair Cheryl Krueger and U.Va. Hugo scholar and conference organizer Marva Barnett will give introductory remarks in the Byrd/Morris Room of the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History and Culture/Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. At 9:50 a.m., Hugo biographer Jean-Marc Hovasse, will deliver the keynote address, "The Three Exiles of Victor Hugo," in French. Hovasse, who has completed two volumes of a three-volume biography of Hugo, is visiting the U.S. for the first time. His Volume II, "Victor Hugo. During Exile: 1851-1864," was chosen as one of the 20 best books of 2008 by the editors of Le Point magazine.

"This should be a very rich conversation, with participation by four American Hugo scholars, as well as our own Hanadi al-Samman, Mané Lagos and Mehr Farooqi, together with two undergraduate and two graduate students," Barnett said.

The conference is supported by the Page-Barbour Fund.

A schedule of events is available here. Note that the sessions listed in the program with French titles will be in French.

— By Jane Ford