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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Policing of Desire: The Gabrielle Russier Affair

Keith Reader.

The Russier case sent shock-waves through France, leading President Pompidou to deliver a denunciation of her treatment as well as inspiring numerous newspaper and magazine articles, three books and a feature film (André Cayatte’s ‘Mourir d’aimer,’ of which I can make a copy available at the conference), and leading to widespread condemnation of the repressive role of the State. Nowadays it is largely forgotten, yet my contention will be that it raises important questions around the interplay of power, desire and the state – issues central to redefinitions of the humanities in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. A brief summary of the case, and of the controversies it provoked, will be followed by discussion of its wider repercussions in these respects, and of the importance of the ‘fait divers’ or journalistic human interest story as source-material for the humanities.


Keith Reader  (United Kingdom)
Professor of Modern French Studies
Department of French
University of Glasgow

Formerly Professor of French at the universities of Newcastle and Kingston (UK). Author of books and articles on a wide range of aspects of contemporary French culture, including The May 1968 Events in France (1993), Régis Debray : A Critical Introduction (1995) and Robert Bresson (2000). Co-editor of Encyclopedia of Contemporary French Culture (1998). Has participated in internationsl conferences in the US, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Canada and Australia.

  • 'Fait divers’
  • May 1968
  • State
  • Repression
  • Power
  • Pedagogy
  • Desire
Person as Subject
  • Russier, Gabrielle

(30 min Conference Paper, English)