Acfas - Département de français' Call for Communications

Faculty of Arts
Département de français
Francophone studies
91st Acfas congress poster for call for communications.
Professor Claudia Bouliane is organizing an Acfas conference to be held in May 2024 at the University of Ottawa: "Une place à table : échanges interculturels dans la fiction montréalaise". She invites master's and doctoral students in the Département de français to submit a proposal to the following address: [email protected].

Call for Communications
« Une place à table :
échanges interculturels dans la fiction montréalaise » Acfas (conference 304), University of Ottawa, May 13th-14th, 2024


Montreal's multicultural richness is widely celebrated in media and political discourse. However, fictional representations of the metropolis don't give a lion's share of space to characters from diverse backgrounds, and when they are portrayed, they are regularly placed on the bangs of society, within a community (family, neighborhood) evolving on the margins. In Montreal works published since 1980, intercultural exchanges most often take place in a commercial setting, implying a transaction that goes beyond the mere gain of knowledge of another person: one buys them a good or pays for their service. Previous research (SSHRC individual project) has shown, for example, that an impressive number of short stories and novels set the intercultural encounters they represent in a food outlet (bar, café, grocery store, restaurant). This begs the question: what place do those who cook the food we eat have at Montreal's big table? Or, more broadly, how are intercultural encounters articulated in Montreal fiction as published and projected on screens? Are we still confined to the boutique, or can commercial exchange lead to genuine intercultural exchange?

The aim is to understand the ideological, political, semiotic, narrative and aesthetic function of cinematographic or literary scenes, in French or English, representing the contact between diverse cultures in Montreal. The communication presented at this conference will help to answer these crucial questions: how has the representation of multi-ethnicity evolved in fiction over the past forty years and, above all, what do these narratives tell us about our society? In doing so, the conference will be situated at the intersection of two major fields of research that have been particularly fertile in recent years: work in literary history and the sociology of literature devoted to the many and varied relationships between the constantly redefining sociopolitical ideology of multiculturalism and Quebec and Canadian fiction, on the one hand (Balint, 2016; Gauvin, 2010; Hutcheon and Richmond, 1990; Prud'homme, 2002); studies dedicated to representations of so-called "ethnic" minorities, on the other (Anctil 2001; Kwaterko, 2002; Nareau, 2010; Sing, 2018).


The aim of this conference is to look at film and literary production from Quebec and Canada, in English and in French, and to analyze intercultural relationships in Montreal of all kinds, regardless of whether they involve the main characters. Communications will address a (non-exhaustive) series of questions, which can be divided into two dynamically interacting sets:

  1. Content: How are these encounters presented: who initiates the discussion? what is discussed? are there follow-ups? In the case of encounters in shops, how are they represented: what are the characteristics of the setting? how are the people there described? what distinctive elements are put forward (languages spoken, sociability practices, cultural rites, etc.)?
  2. Form-meaning : How are relationships between people from different countries or cultures formulated in Quebec and Canadian fiction: how and how often do intercultural exchanges take place in businesses associated with non-North American cultures? What are the enunciation marks that qualify the climate in which contacts between individuals are established? what is the actantial role of staged intercultural encounters? how do films and literary texts enter into dialogue with the laws, policies and concrete practices of multicultural integration as debated in the public sphere?


The conference's main contribution will be to fill a gap in bilingual Quebec and Canadian film and literary studies with regard to the representativeness of Montreal's multicultural population. To this end, it will pursue two main objectives:

  1. Map and analyze the social imaginary of the contemporary era (1980 to the present) with particular reference to ethnic diversity through the analysis of fictions;

  2. Understand how Montreal fictions mobilize and rework the figure of the Other in the social imagination,so as to question dominant discourses on the integration of (im)migrants and refugees. In this way, the communications presented as part of this conference will contribute to the redefinition of fundamental concepts linked to the notion of "Canadian multiculturalism", such as welcome, hospitality, diversity and social cohesion.

Location and date

The event will take place at the University of Ottawa on May 13th and 14th, 2024.


The conference will take the form of a series of 20-minute presentations, followed by a 10-minute discussion period. Communications will be delivered in person.

Date to submit communication proposals

Proposals (300 words) should be sent by February 16th to Claudia Bouliane at [email protected].

Graduate students are especially invited to submit a proposal.

A reply will be sent by February 23rd. Please note that participation in the conference requires registration on the Acfas website (link in French).