In Memoriam: Americanist Maurice Gonnaud

In Memoriam Maurice Gonnaud

Maurice GONNAUD, who presided over the destinies of the French Association for American Studies between 1973 and 1980, became the third president of European Association for American Studies, after A.N.J den Hollander and Harry C. Allen. From 1980 to 1984, he worked for our common good along with vice-president Sergio Perosa, secretary Hans Bungert and treasurer Rob Kroes. He died on August 16, 2017. He was 92.
A highly principled scholar and citizen, a man of conviction, culture, measure and rectitude, generous with his time and dedicated to the joint cause of intellectual pursuit and European cooperation, he had studied classics before he turned to English at the end of the war, a legacy that shone through in his written prose and oral delivery, in his most urbane manners.
Begun while he taught at Bryn Mawr, his intellectual biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a lifelong concern, was defended by Maurice in 1964 but republished only in 1987 (Individu et société dans l’oeuvre de Ralph Waldo Emerson : essai de biographie spirituelle, Paris: Didier, 539 p.
) and only came out in translation, to great acclaim, in 2014 ( An Uneasy Solitude: 
Individual and Society in the Work of Ralph Waldo Emerson
, Princeton Legacy Library), a belated but much deserved homage to this aging scholar. In it, he tried to come to terms with the sense of puzzlement he felt at first reading English Traits, to account for the strange “mixture of historical frescoes and crudely personal intrusions, instantaneous observations and waves of references and quotations”, to understand an “incoherent alliance” of “peaceable egotism” and freshness that challenged his own “critical categories”. Stating in hindsight one of his constant preoccupations, Maurice wrote in 2004 that what he most appreciated while doing this work was the necessity he thus faced “to unlearn a number of thought mechanisms long imprinted in [himself]” (Special issue of Revue Française d’Etudes Américaines, n° 100, 2004).
Indeed, such an attitude was probably the main reason for which, in all the functions he scrupulously fulfilled while never derogating from his own moral principles, he elicited such trust and commanded such respect. His curiosity, desire to learn from others and ability to listen never left him.
A subtle and learned analyst of nineteenth-century American literature (he also notably co-authored, with Jean Béranger, La Littérature américaine
jusqu’en 1865, Paris : Armand Colin, 1974, and published numerous articles on that period), he had begun his career at the University of Dijon (1953-1959) and  been a research fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (1959-1961). He was elected Full Professor at the University of Lumière-Lyon II in 1961, a position he held till his retirement in 1986, after a year as Visiting Professor at Harvard in 1985, where he gave a lecture (“Democratic aesthetics”) that became the basis for his latest contribution to the field, published in Transatlantica (
Our friendship began nearly 40 years ago, while we worked daily together for the better part of two years, organizing the 1982 Paris EAAS conference, not without a host of difficulties, as neither Maurice nor I taught at a Parisian university at the time. After he retired and we no longer met on professional grounds, we often corresponded and I tried, until last year, to go and see him in Ecully (near Lyon), where he lived, as often as I could. I will never forget the warm hug and encouragement he gave me in 2004 when I succeeded Josef Jarab as President of EAAS, nor the delightful welcome Mrs Gonnaud and he gave their visitors.
Only two weeks ago, I spoke to them on the phone. Maurice had just sent to the press a couple of well-weighed, principled letters dealing with current events. He sometimes had trouble standing, but still could take a stand. Not much white hair on his head ; none on his mind.
Having known him was a privilege and a joy.

Marc Chénetier

Become an editor with SOAR: The Society of Americanists Review!

SOAR: The Society of Americanists Review is currently seeking to fill a variety of editorial positions as the journal begins operations in the 2017-2018 academic year. These positions include:

• Two senior editors
• Two associate editors
• One features editor
• One book and media review editor

Interested candidates should send a letter of interest describing a strategic vision for their editorial term and current CV to

SOAR is seeking submissions as it begins publication in 2017!

SOAR: The Society of Americanists Review is currently seeking to develop a pipeline of high-quality submissions for our upcoming volumes. Submissions are encouraged on all topics and methods in the cultural study of the United States. Special volume, special section or feature, and review proposals are also welcome.

The journal publishes work in a variety of formats, including research articles; forum, discussion, memorial, and state-of-the-field essays; dialogues and interviews; reports on programs, organizations, and pedagogy; as well as book, exhibit, and media reviews. Multimedia content is encouraged and can be accommodated at the discretion of the editors. Submissions undergo a rigorous multi-tiered peer review process which includes the journal’s editorial staff, advisory board members, and external reviewers.

For further information about the journal and its submission process, visit SOAR’s website at:


Less than a week until the Society of Americanists conference begins in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Hilton Harrisburg Hotel, March 31-April 1! Walk-in registrations welcome. For program, registration forms, hotel information, and directions to conference site, see Weather forecast is for partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the 50s-60s (f).



CFP: Milestones, Markers, and Moments–SOA meeting with EASA & MAFA

Inaugural Meeting of the Society of Americanists
Theme: “Milestones, Markers, and Moments: Turning Points in American Experience and Tradition”
Date: March 31-April 1, 2017
Venue: Harrisburg Hilton, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Partner Organizations: Middle Atlantic Folklife Association (MAFA) and Eastern American Studies Association (EASA)

In the upcoming year, the anniversary of classic publications and addresses, of the election of the first African American president of the ASA, and the foundation of many prominent programs in American Studies throughout the United States, Americanists might reflect on any number of critical moments in the formation of the field that call upon us to consider both how the field has come to be constructed in the present moment, and what turning points may lie ahead.

As part of our history of framing, and re-framing American Studies as a field in dialogue with contemporary events and trends, institutional developments, and disciplinary formations, the inaugural meeting of a new professional organization, The Society of Americanists, will offer yet another point of departure to interrogate American Studies as a scholarly venture.

Conceived of as “a coalition of persons, organizations, and academic programs devoted to the study of the United States.” The SOA’s purpose is to foster integrated studies of American history, society, arts, and culture in all their aspects, and to promote the profession of scholars and professionals devoted to the study of the United States in a global context.

This year, the SOA, in partnership with the Middle Atlantic Folklife Association and the Eastern American Studies Association, invites proposals for papers, panels, forums, and workshops related to the broad theme of markers, moments, and turning points in American history, folklife, education, cultural conservation, heritage, and society.

As part of specially designated SOA-sponsored sessions, the program committee is particularly interested in works that offer perspectives on both past moments and future directions in the American Studies movement, especially in a global context.

The SOA, MAFA, and EASA hope for presentations suggested by the conference theme , but we also welcome panels on topics of significance to scholars engaged in the practice of American Studies that the conference theme otherwise might exclude.

Submission Guidelines:

For Individual Presenters: Send a short abstract (no more than 200 words) and a brief CV or resume (no more than two pages). Place your name and email address on both documents.

For Pre-formed Panels: Send a cover sheet with the title of the panel, the names of each participant, and the titles of their presentations. Include a short abstract of each paper (no more than 200 words each) as well as a CV or resume for each panel participant (no longer than two pages).

SOA Designation: Those submitting proposals are free to do so without designation for the general joint conference. However, if you would like your paper, panel, or workshop to be considered for inclusion in the inaugural meeting of the Society of Americanists, please indicate this on your proposal materials. These sessions will receive special designation in the conference program as SOA-sponsored events.

How to Submit: All materials should be sent to Jennifer Drissel ( before Monday, January 16, 2017. Graduate students whose proposals are accepted will be encouraged to submit their final papers electronically several weeks prior to the conference to be considered for the Simon J. Bronner Award for the outstanding graduate paper in American Studies.

The conference will also host an Undergraduate Roundtable. Faculty members interested in having their undergraduate students present research at the conference should contact Dr. Francis Ryan of La Salle University ( Roundtable participants will compete for the Francis Ryan Award, awarded annually to the outstanding undergraduate paper.

Any general questions can be directed to John Haddad of Penn State Harrisburg (

FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK! 0785_hilton_harrisburg

The Society of Americanists to launch next spring!

The Society of Americanists (SOA) is a coalition of persons, organizations, and academic programs devoted to the study of the United States. SOA has as its purpose fostering integrated studies of American history, society, arts, and culture in all their aspects; providing a forum for discussion of scholarly and professional issues among its members, including an annual conference and communications;  and promotion of the profession of Americanists devoted to the study of the United States in a global context.  Its distinctive niche in the organizational landscape of learned, professional societies in American Studies is to represent the discipline and profession of Americanists and advance analytical approaches to the research and interpretation of the United States.

We will be launching the society at our inaugural conference in the spring of 2017. The SOA’s new flagship journal, SOAR: Society of Americanists Review will begin operations later this year. For more information about the SOA or SOAR, email to