AIZEN/UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA − TUSCALOOSA CONFERENCE
The most recent conference, which Juliana Starr organized with Carmen Mayer at the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, USA, once again highlighted the AIZEN’s ability to foster a global community of scholars devoted to researching and promoting naturalism, even during a worldwide pandemic. Our Association’s nineteenth international conference, celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the AIZEN (1991-2021), was titled “Émile Zola, Naturalism, and Protest,” and took place on March 3-5, 2022 in the beautiful Bryant Conference Center on the verdant campus of the University of Alabama. The American South and especially Alabama is the cradle of the American Civil Rights Movement, hence the themes of protest and civil rights were fitting to bring together the events of this region of the United States and the ideas of the author of J’accuse, the great protest writer and champion of justice, truth and tolerance, Émile Zola.
From left: Juliana Starr and Carmen Mayer, organizers-in-chief of the conference
After choosing the theme of the conference, world events only made the work of naturalist writers and artists more relevant. We saw the #Me Too movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the beginning of war in Ukraine, the worst European conflict since World War II. Other than the sessions clearly devoted to Zolian fiction and naturalism, many treated topics specifically related to the conference theme of protest and civil rights. Others dealt with women writers and naturalism in the arts, including the visual arts, theater and opera. Others had an international focus, treating American, Belgian, Brazilian, Portuguese, and African naturalism.
Dr. Tricia McElroy, Associate Dean Fine Arts, University of Alabama − Tuscaloosa
Dr. Cheryl Toman, Chair, Dept. of Modern Langs and Classics, University of Alabama − Tuscaloosa
We are proud to have collaborated with the Department of Modern Languages and Classics, the School of Music, and the College of Arts and Sciences in a highly regarded and leading American university such as the University of Alabama.
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, USA
The exceptional character of this conference was also a result of the performance of Thérèse Raquin, the opera by American composer Tobias Picker, staged by students in the opera program at the University of Alabama School of Music. The composer himself, Artistic Director of the Tulsa Opera, attended this Alabama Premier of his work, as a Special Guest of the AIZEN and the School of Music. The conference also benefited from the presence of Anna Gural-Migdal, the Honorary President of the AIZEN and our Honored Guest who recited her poem “Inspiration Zola” accompanied by violin and piano music.
From left: Anna Gural-Migdal and Tobias Picker
We also had the pleasure to welcome two invited speakers: Jennifer Yee, Professor of Literature in French at the University of Oxford, England, and Vittorio Frigerio, Emeritus Professor of French at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. The AIZEN heartily thanks all four of them for their participation in our 30th Anniversary conference.
From left: Vittorio Frigerio and Carolyn Snipes-Hoyt
This symposium, through the richness of its content and its highly international dimension, honored the University of Alabama by bringing to its doors (and to its screens via Zoom) talented participants from three continents and twelve different countries: Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and the United States.
AIZEN 30th Anniversary, Gorgas House Museum, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa