On 12th October 2015 our lecturer in French Studies Dr. John McKeane hosted the UK premiere of the film ‘Altus’ with French film director Christine Baudillon. In ‘Altus’ philosopher Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe visits some of the key sites of Modern Europe and discusses famous works, reads poems aloud, and play-acts in order to undermine the image of the self-important Professor.
Director Christine Baudillon was visiting from Montpellier, where Lacoue-Labarthe lived prior to his death in 2007, and where Dr. McKeane knows a community of philosophers, film-makers, and artists. This links to Dr. McKeane’s research, for instance his book on Lacoue-Labarthe named (Un)Timely Meditations (Legenda, 2015), and informs his teaching at Reading. Dr. McKeane is working on a final-year module ‘How to Think in French’ which is being prepared for 2016-17.
‘How to Think in French’ will look at French ideas of clarity and how it is linked to particular ways of thinking and writing. Since the 18th century and the lumières, the idea of clarity has been presented as crucial to notions such as democracy, human rights, and universalism. But how exactly does it work? The module will seek to answer this by looking at major philosophers from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Students will learn to perform close readings of texts, learning to analyse the conventions of French thinking and writing; they will also learn to think differently themselves.