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1In the spring of 2020, as France was experiencing its first lockdown due to the COVID19 pandemic, the perplexing question of how to find material to fill the pages of Études britanniques contemporaines 60 emerged. From the past thirty years, the spring and autumn issues of the journal had published the selected proceedings of conferences (SAES conferences for the spring numbers and SEAC(-SAIT) or SEW issues for the autumns numbers). In March and April 2020, as the date of the SEAC conference in Tours was drawing near and uncertainty as to whether it would take place was materialising, and later on when the conference was officially cancelled, confirming the community’s fears, it became urgent to make a decision. At the time, a fairly great proportion of the scholars tilling the fields of English studies was little versed in organising online events—the attendant skills would be acquired in the coming months. This is when it dawned on us that, for the first time, Études britanniques contemporaines would not be publishing a selection of articles originally presented during a conference.

2In the sideration induced by the sanitary crisis and the conditions of the strict lockdown, we soon realised that 2020 would not look like the academic and scientific year that we had anticipated, and it became clear that, among the members of the scientific community, PhD candidates and young doctors would be hit most violently by the restrictions on conference attendance and publication. This is when the idea to devote Ebc 60 to the production of young scholars emerged. One year later, this seems to have been the right choice, as the six articles gathered in this issue testify to the creativity, pugnaciousness and resilience of the younger generation of researchers in the field of contemporary English literature.

3The following articles address subjects that cover the whole of the period that Ebc specialises in, from Modernism to the very contemporary period (the closing article being devoted to Bernardine Evaristo’s 2019 novel). This is an index of the creativity of the SEAC and of its continuing interest in various periods of production and aesthetic moments. The articles collected here are also proof of a sustained interest in a variety of forms and genres: fiction, predominantly, but also biography and the dialogue between creative and philosophical works. They also evince a great deal of thematic variety: the new biography, the influence of radical empiricism, the concept of home in diasporic cultures, climate change fiction, experimental narrative elegy and the contentious issue of the visibility of ‘black’ women in Britain. Still, what is common to all these articles is a methodological approach that brings together attention to the singularity of the texts and critical/theoretical leverage. One step further, and more pointedly, all contributions clearly bear the influence of the ethical turn in criticism that has taken hold of the humanities for quite a few decades now. Whether they address aesthetic and technical means to represent a de-centered modern subject in Maryam Thirriard’s piece; or a vision of the individual as relational and certainly not autonomous, as is the case with Tim Gupwell’s article; or a dialectical take on the home as both space of enclosure or openness in Natacha Lasorak’s contribution; or a grappling with the ways in which contemporary fiction presents the denied and inaccessible problems of climate change in Marion Moussier’s piece; or the way in which contemporary elegy raises the issue of faithfulness to the departed in Carine Nibakure’s contribution; or else how the issue of social invisibility is addressed and problematised in Cédric Courtois’s article, each one of them raises the issue of the responsibility of the modern and contemporary artist, and his/her ethical grappling with a world that s/he is trying to come to terms with, (re-)present and possibly help fashion.

4In their consistent ethical concern for individuals and groups, the narratives under study in this issue attest to literature’s interest in and responsibility for various types of invisibilities and the young critics whose work is published in this volume are themselves intent on explicating a narrative ethics that at times clearly edges towards a politics of literature.

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Jean-Michel Ganteau, « Introduction »Études britanniques contemporaines [En ligne], 60 | 2021, mis en ligne le 01 janvier 2021, consulté le 13 avril 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Jean-Michel Ganteau

Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3, EMMA EA 741, F34000, Montpellier, France

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