Humour in Dijon

I’m just back from an international and inter-disciplinary colloquium – La Creation au feminin: les humeurs de l’humour – organised by Marianne Camus of the Centre Interlangues Texte, Image, Langage at the University of Bourgogne in Dijon on 13 and 14 June. It was an honour being the “ecrivaine invitee” and Marianne Camus did a terrific job translating, or rather rendering, the more humourous pieces I read that were conceived during the online Your Messages Project last November. (I’m also really pleased that I’ll soon be able to add her translations to my collection of Stories in French.)

The different types of humour expressed by women creators who were presented and discussed over the two days had an enormous range. I tried to draw it in my mind. Somehow I felt that if you plopped humour as such, in the sense of the traditional and hitherto generic guffaw, belly laugh and leer, in the middle of a plate, the range of “humours” of woman’s humour seemed to cling to the edges of the plate, becoming just that – edgy – and balancing a new “generique” in a sort of psychological spin not without a certain responsibility: lose it, ok; but don’t drop it!

There were presentations on artists – Lisette Model, Tatiana Trouve, Sarah Lucas, dancers and clowns – and on writers – Angela Carter, Jeanette Winterson, Zadie Smith, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Stevie Smith, Margarete Michaelson, Elke Heidenreich, Antoinette Deshoulieres, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Colette, Dorothy Parker, Nadedja Teffi and Irmgard Keun, and even characters – Sheila Levine, Bridget Jones.

Marie-Daniele Koechlin with her video La Figue was an invited artist as was Myrtille Chartuss with her one-woman show, “Myrtille donne la BANANE a ceux qui en ont… dans le CITRON!?” (Check out her MySpace video extracts.)

The weather was wonderful, as was the food – Restaurant Simpatico and Le Clos des Capucines – and I found La Chouette and stroked her with my left hand on Friday the 13th – to bring me luck! I even sold three copies of Back Burning and spent the proceeds on five different sorts of Dijon mustard and donkey and boar sausage to take back to Vienna.

My thanks to all concerned for a wonderfully stimulating time, and particular thanks to Marianne Camus and Myriam Segura-Pineiro for all the hard work behind the scenes. Check out my pix at Flickr for a bit of a wink and a grin of my take of the two days.

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