dimanche 23 septembre 2012

Melbourne Salon at the Alliance Française: Thursday 11th October 2012, 6 – 8.30 pm

Dear ISFAR and Melbourne Salon members,

You are invited to the final Melbourne Salon for 2012, to be held at the Alliance Française (51 Grey St, St Kilda) from 6 - 8.30pm on Thursday 11th October.

As you will see from the attached flyer, it promises to be a wonderful evening, with some very distinguished guests and a number of activities to accompany the main presentation (hence earlier start time). Our main speaker, Cédric Crémière (Director of the Natural History Museum of Le Havre), will be in Melbourne to retrieve the illustrations from the Lesueur Collection currently on loan to the NGV for the Napoleon exhibition. The website and book launches are all related to French exploration in Australia, and we are delighted to have so many experts on the topic together at once.

Please reserve your place by responding to this email or calling (03) 9925 2264. Places are limited. Cover charge $15 payable on the evening (includes wine and cheese) - cash only please. (Anyone who has already reserved a place does not need to rebook - your places are secured.)

We look forward to seeing you there.

*Curiosity is the lust of the mind** *(Thomas Hobbes Philosopher 1679)

*The Melbourne Salon is* brought to you by RMIT University, ISFAR
(Institute for the Study of French-Australian Relations) and the Alliance
Française de Melbourne.

*The Melbourne Salon* is a place where curious and open-minded people can
engage in French-Australian cross-cultural dialogues. Talks are in English;
subsequent discussions in French or English.

*The Melbourne Salon* meets 3 times a year at the Alliance Française de
Melbourne, 51 Grey St., St Kilda.

Sites of knowledge, sites of power:
the Paris Museum, collecting the world (1739-1832)
The Natural History Museum of Paris, founded as “the King’s Garden” in 1635, was a site for
cultivating and curating medicinal herbs. The nomination in 1739 of Georges-Louis Leclerc,
later Count Buffon, ushered in a significant period of development for the institution and for
Natural History as a discipline, thanks to the inspirational spirit of the Enlightenment and the
positioning of France as a great world power. The Natural History Museum of Paris
progressively became the centre of a world network that Buffon and Cuvier in particular were
responsible for constructing. At the same time, French science came closer to those in power,
associating itself, for example, with the conquests of the Napoleonic régime and with the great
expeditions it sponsored (Egypt, Terra Australis). Through selected examples, this talk aims to
show how imperialism supported Natural History and why this particular discipline found
favour in that context.
Cédric Crémière is an historian of science. Since 2005,
he has been Director of the Natural History Museum of
Le Havre (Normandy), and is also general curator of the
“Terre d’eaux” festival (Land of Waters) held every
summer. Following his studies in philosophy and
museology, he earned his PhD in 2004 with a thesis
entitled Science at the Museum. Comparative Anatomy
at the Jardin du roi and at the Natural History Museum
of Paris, 1745-1898 (to be published in 2013). During
that time, he also trained as a Heritage Curator at the
Institut National du Patrimoine (National Institute of
Heritage). He was Honorary Research Fellow at the
Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medecine at
University College London in 2004, where he conducted research into the history of mechanical
obstetrics in 18th and 19th century France. Cédric was Honorary Fellow in the Department of
History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University in 2005. He has curated several
exhibitions, including Avant la naissance, 5000 ans d’histoire (with René Frydman, Émile
Papiernik, Jean-Louis Fischer) in 2008. In 2010-2011, he was selected as an affiliate of the
prestigious Institut des Hautes Études pour la Science et la Technologie, with the title of
Cédric is a member of the team, led by Stéphane Schmitt, that is currently engaged in re-editing
and re-publishing the complete works of Buffon – one of the most prominent and influential
figures in natural history during the eighteenth century.
Launch of The Baudin Legacy Project
The Baudin Legacy project was funded in Australia through an Australian Research Council
Discovery Grant and in Belgium from the National Fund for Scientific Research (Fonds national
de la recherche scientifique). The five year project commenced in 2005, with its primary aim
being to provide an online archive and reference guide accessible to all those interested in the
Baudin expedition and French exploration in general. The Baudin Legacy web site thus
comprises the French transcriptions and the English translations of the writings generated by
the expedition: the journals of Baudin, his officers, scientists and crew. This is supported by an
iconographical archive and other reference tools such as archival sources, library holdings and
bibliographies. Two of the project team, Jean Fornasiero and John West-Sooby, will provide a
short tour of this web site as part of this Melbourne Salon.
Jean Fornasiero is Professor of French and Head of the School of Humanities at the University
of Adelaide. John West-Sooby is Associate Professor and Head of French, also at the University
of Adelaide. They have worked extensively on the early French exploration of Australia, and in
particular on the Baudin expedition. They were both members of the “Baudin Legacy” research
team, funded by the Australian Research Council, and have published widely on that topic. They
are the co-authors, with Peter Monteath, of Encountering Terra Australis. The Australian Voyages
of Nicolas Baudin and Matthew Flinders, which was awarded the Frank Broeze Memorial
Maritime History Prize in 2005. They are currently preparing a critical edition, and translation,
of the confidential report on the British colony at Port Jackson compiled by Baudin’s zoologist,
François Péron.
Launch of Discovery and Empire: French Ships in the South Seas
edited by John West-Sooby (University of Adelaide Press)
The essays in this book, edited by John West-Sooby, deal with various aspects of the history of
French exploration in the Pacific. The first section of the volume seeks to analyse the
motivations as well as the scientific and political outcomes of the succession of voyages that
were undertaken by the French in the southern hemisphere from the sixteenth century through
to the early nineteenth century. It focuses in particular on the geopolitics of this period, known
as the “Age of Discovery”, and on the rivalries that emerged between France and the other
European nations engaged in the exploration of the southern oceans. The essays in the second
part of the volume are primarily concerned with questions relating to the contact between the
French voyagers and the native populations they encountered, notably the Australian
Associate Professor John West-Sooby teaches French language and literature, in particular the
literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as the mediaeval period. He has a
long-standing research interest in the nineteenth-century novel, including the works of
Maupassant, Barbey d’Aurevilly and, in particular, Stendhal. He has also identified the existence
of the picaresque tradition in twentieth-century writing and has applied this methodology to
another of his great interests, French crime fiction. In 2003 he was awarded the Palmes
académiques by the French government, and in 2011 he completed a book with Jean Fornasiero
on François Péron and his ‘spy’ document on the colony of New South Wales: French Designs on
New South Wales, a critical edition of the Memoir on the British Settlements in New Holland by
François Péron, Adelaide, Friends of the State Library of South Australia, forthcoming.
Launch of Almost a French Australia:
French-British Rivalry in the Southern Oceans
by Noelene Bloomfield (Halstead Press)
Many Australians have only recently realised how close this continent was to becoming partly
French, like Canada, with two languages and two cultures. But Australian history books
neglected these early chapters of our nation’s history for almost two centuries.
In a strategic battle with her perennial rival across the English Channel, France sent numerous
scientific and commercial expeditions to the Indian and Pacific Oceans in the 1700s and 1800s,
attempting to solve the mysteries of the legendary Terra Australis Incognita, and to locate
suitable ports for trade below the Equator. Numerous French captains, officers, scientists and
crewmembers died from a variety of illnesses during these voyages and were therefore unable
to report their exciting discoveries directly to their King or Emperor. And the outbreak of the
French Revolution in 1789 and its subsequent turmoil meant that France was not in a position
to develop colonies in the southern oceans for many decades.
Noelene Bloomfield explains why the French, despite having claimed the western side of this
country, drawing detailed charts, and making many thousands of important scientific
discoveries, eventually withdrew from the Australian continent, allowing the British carte
blanche to develop this nation and effectively block France from both Australia and New
Noelene Bloomfield, Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes
Académiques, is Honorary Research Fellow in European
Languages and Studies at The University of Western Australia.
Noelene taught French in NSW before gaining a Master of Arts
degree in the United States. She lectured at the University of
Oregon before joining the staff of French Studies at The
University of Western Australia from 1968 till 2002. Noelene
published a textbook entitled Voyage de Découverte and
produced a DVD and a CD-ROM on the extensive French
exploration in Australian waters. She then created an
exhibition entitled A French Australia? Almost! which has been
displayed in many locations in Australia and overseas, a
French version of which is currently touring in France.
Noelene, who is listed in Who’s Who of Australian Women, has
recently co-authored a book on the first 100 years of the
Alliance Française association in Perth, Western Australia.

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