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What’s in a Number?

À propos de numéros
Jean-Michel Ganteau


Cette introduction retrace les principaux développements de la revue, survenus au cours des vingt-cinq dernières années. Elle évoque les débuts de l’aventure Ebc, les priorités scientifiques de la revue, ainsi que les récentes évolutions techniques qui en ont accompagné le développement. Elle rend hommage aux auteurs, membres du comité et acteurs de la SEAC dont le travail a permis à Ebc de devenir une revue de référence dans les domaines de la littérature et de la culture britanniques au cours de ces dernières années. Elle présente également les articles réunis dans la première partie de ce volume.

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Texte intégral

Sometimes, number 50 is number 51

1This 50th volume is, in fact, the 51st, as the Ebc adventure started with a launching of a 0 number, which was meant as a humble yet determined trial: should the attempt at creating a French journal devoted to contemporary British literature and culture fail, number 1 would never see the day, and Ebc would never exist. Still it did exist and started with a bang: Etudes britanniques contemporaines 0 was published early in 1992 and printed by the then Imprimerie de Recherche at the Université Montpellier 3. A second issue, legitimately identified as number 1, was released in December of the same year. At least, two numbers have been published on a yearly basis ever since. ‘At least two’, because sometimes two is three, as we were taught by the publication of a few special issues, mostly inspired by our national curriculum, or reflecting an ongoing collaboration with the Société d’Études Woolfiennes.

Sometimes, then, number 50 is number 53… or 54

2Now, such an apparent lateness might well be the paradoxical expression of an advance, or at least of Ebc’s sustained concern with things contemporary and with reflecting contemporary critical and theoretical engagements. Over what almost amounts to the last quarter of a century, the SEAC and its official publication, Ebc, have contributed to the birth and structuring of what, in the early 1990s, used to be a relatively new field of studies, i.e. contemporary literature, while promoting he development of Modernist British studies, on this side of the Channel. They have done so by welcoming various and sundry critical and theoretical approaches, and by following the initiatives of society members who organised scientific events that consistently filled the pages of the journal. In more than two decades, Ebc has contributed to the emergence of the contemporary canon in English literature, even while working towards the consolidation and revaluation of the Modernist canon. It has done so by welcoming varied literary forms: narrative fiction, poetry, drama, film and visual arts, and last but not least intermedial studies. Its vocation is to remain open to all forms within the remit of 20th- and 21st-century British literature.

3Ebc’s longevity is certainly an item to be proud of. Ever since it was created under the aegis of the SEAC, it has seen no less than seven SEAC presidents, and two general editors. It has also relied on two committees whose members have unstintingly worked for the journal, writing reports, making decisions, respecting deadlines. It was allowed to go on developing, over almost twenty years, thanks to Michèle Théry’s personal involvement as co-editor in charge of the production of the journal before it went online, with number 44. With the migration towards open access that took place in 2013, Ebc has gained greater visibility and the community of readers has grown from fairly local to downright international. While the journal was fairly confidential back in hard-copy times, it has steadily increased over the last few years, so much so that our productions are now read in China, Russia, various African countries and different other parts of the world that we did not manage to cater for in times.

Perhaps, 54 is 50, then

4Number 50 is proof to the journal’s adaptation to new times and new techniques, and clearly indicates that despite its apparent belatedness, it has emphatically not missed its appointment with the digital humanities turn.

5Poised as it is between past accomplishments and innovation, Ebc 50 is a very special issue, and this is why, Catherine Bernard the running president of the SEAC and myself wanted to make it a very special issue indeed. This led us to invite fellow labourers in the vineyards of contemporary British literature with an established, international reputation to give us a contribution on any subject of their choosing. Some of them have responded enthusiastically, and it is an honour to publish the words of Derek Attridge, Laura Marcus, Catherine Lanone and Frédéric Regard—the latter two being former Presidents of the SEAC—in the opening section of this volume. Each author, as will appear in due course, has chosen a format and a theme that caught his/her fancy, and we are grateful to the four of them for their willingness to share both their scientific expertise and individual talent, and for accepting to expose themselves by adopting (and honing out) non-canonical formats, like the reading diary and the critical laboratory.

6My thanks extend to all contributors to this volume, to preceding numbers and numbers to come, to all collaborators, and to the growing community of readers that make Ebc such a valuable source, and the Ebc enterprise such an inspiring adventure.

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Référence électronique

Jean-Michel Ganteau, « What’s in a Number? »Études britanniques contemporaines [En ligne], 50 | 2016, mis en ligne le 07 avril 2016, consulté le 22 juin 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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Jean-Michel Ganteau

Jean-Michel Ganteau is Professor of British Literature at the Université Paul Valéry Montpellier. He is the editor of the journal Études britanniques. He is the author of two monographs: David Lodge : le choix de l’éloquence (Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux, 2001) and Peter Ackroyd et la musique du passé (Michel Houdiard, 2008) and of a book-length study entitled The Aesthetics and Ethics of Vulnerability in Contemporary British Literature (Routledge 2015). He is also the editor, with Christine Reynier, of six volumes of essays Impersonality and Emotion in Twentieth-Century British Literature (Publications Montpellier 3, 2005), Impersonality and Emotion in Twentieth-Century British Arts (Presses Universitaires de la Méditerrannée, 2007), Autonomy and Commitment in Twentieth-Century British Literature (PULM, 2010), Autonomy and Commitment in Twentieth-Century British Arts (PULM, 2011), The Ethics of Alterity in 19th- to 21st-Century British Literature (PULM 2013) and The Ethics of Alterity in 19th- to 21st-Century British Arts (PULM 2015). He has also edited four volumes of essays in collaboration with Susana Onega, The Ethical Component in Experimental British Fiction since the 1960s (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), Trauma and Ethics in Contemporary British Literature (Rodopi, 2010), Trauma and Romance in Contemporary British Fiction (Routledge, 2013), and Contemporary Trauma Narratives: Liminality and the Ethics of form (Routledge, 2014). He has published extensively on contemporary British fiction, with a special interest in the ethics of affects (as manifest in such aesthetic resurgences and concretions as the baroque, kitsch, camp, melodrama, romance), trauma criticism and theory and the ethics of vulnerabilty in France and abroad.

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