Site Model

and constructions
in text and image

Programme 3: Intersections

The Notion of Series

(Coordinator: S. Wells-Lassagne)


The desire to become immersed in a fictitious universe is nothing new. Indeed, all great literary forms, from myths, epics, the sagas of Balzac or Dickens right up to radio drama, testify to its persistence. The craze over the last twenty years for television series and their often unbelievable or exaggerated storylines, as well as the proliferation of this craze to other forms of fiction, represent only the most recent manifestation of this desire. The notion of series necessarily involves comparing these new formats with those that preceded them.

However, this proliferation is accompanied by fragmentation: the notion of series implies not only the importance of what is to come next, but also the fragmentation of the whole. It raises questions of structure and hierarchical relations, not only within the fiction itself (how should individual episodes be written in light of the scenario as a whole), but also in relation to other narrative forms (that advocate an ending that a series does not necessarily claim to have). This relationship is all the more important when it comes to adaptations or interpretations of pre-existing works, which highlight the specificity of the respective media for the original and its adaptation. The relationship between ‘original’ and ‘adaptation’ has already been analysed by critics (Stam, Elliott, Hutcheon, etc.), but the questions of the semiotic transfers at work when adapting a literary text to another type of media could also constitute one of the avenues of our intermedia reflection. How do we move from a graphic novel to a film adaptation (Snowpiercer)? What influence do cinematic forms have on TV series and vice versa (Penny Dreadful)? Do the passages, transfers and mutations of these “renegade fictions” (Saint-Gelais) induce a modification of the relation to the aesthetic material? Operations such as expansion, repetition, but also multiplication or dispersion create new relationships between creators and receivers, and a different relationship to temporality. Moreover, the transition from a closed to an open format would represent another avenue of research: how can a short story (Justified) or an epic (Vikings) be adapted to an open format such as a television series?

The attraction of the notion of series is not confined to television. While some see in the popularity of the Marvel universe the serialisation of the cinema, for others it is a reminder of its comic strip origins. Similarly, the new popularity of radio series (Serial) owes as much to the history of the programmes of yesteryear as to television series. But the complexity engendered by these series formats and the intertextual references they adopt question the boundaries between popular and scholarly culture, raising the issue of the emergence of a new series culture that is possibly related to that of the contemporary image (Gervais).

(Colleagues involved: Shannon Wells-Lassagne, Isabelle Le Corff, Gaïd Girard, Thierry Robin, Catherine Conan, Elizabeth Mullen, Hélène Machinal.)



Screen Culture and Intermedia Subjectivities

(Coordinator: H. Machinal)


The digital revolution and the theory of information (Wiener) have resulted in an epistemological turning point, the origin of which would seem to lie in cybernetics. We have now moved from a culture of letters and texts to a culture of the screen and the visual theorised by Bertrand Gervais. This programme intends to look at different facets of a contemporary culture that promotes a relationship to technology and the media that is perhaps not so different from the one that characterized the past centuries, where knowledge, interconnected as it was in spaces of intermediality, nevertheless took various routes. Already linked to image, knowledge was exchanged in the engravings of scientific treatises, sketches attached to a letter, the exhibition of wonders from the first private collections, and in the paintings of artists. Thus, there may exist a form of invariant in the constitution of an episteme as the result of a weaving within a plural culture marked by its existence within networks of sociability. This proposed sub-field also falls within a social criticism perspective.


Research avenues:


1/ Hybridity of media discourse and formats: relationships between image/text/audio, collection/catalogue, and social media

The modes of distribution of discourse are increasingly diversified and transformed with the introduction of new media, the latter often representing an evolution from a pre-existing format to a hybridisation of two previously distinct formats. However, it is relevant to consider that from the 16th and 17th centuries, the discourse of a collector of curiosities, based on scientific treatises, was not considered as a scientific discourse for all that. It was individualised to create a new form of discourse that initiated a totally new relationship to objects on the one hand and to knowledge on the other, reworked by a subjectivity asserting the legitimacy of personal choices. This hybridisation of discourse persists and seems to resurface within the context of epistemological and ontological crises. We see then that discourses that are supposedly circumscribed to a specific field (the discourse of science, for example) are taken up, represented, put in perspective and questioned by the arts. This gives rise to experiments between the scriptural, audio-literature, video-literature, Land Art and the virtual, such as those that are developing in Scotland. In the media genres, we can also consider the hybridisation of docu-fictions (docu-soaps and docu-drama), second-wave reality TV shows (Geordie Shore, TOWIE, Made in Chelsea), and semi-scripted reality TV. New text/image relationships also emerge in the visual arts in general and allow us to question the semiotics at work in these cases of hybridisation between the visual and the scriptural. From a social criticism point of view, is this the media reflection of an increasingly ubiquitous hybridisation between the virtual and reality? Or is it a sign of an evolution towards another type of cognition?

(Myriam Marrache-Gouraud, Joanna Thornborrow, Camille Manfredi, Hélène Machinal, Gaïd Girard.)


2/ Media forms and political ideology 

From simulacra of reality (Baudrillard) to desiring machines (Deleuze and Guattari), not to mention biopower (Foucault), globalisation at work in a contemporary society – that tends to become a screen society in which bodies are constantly connected – raises political issues that Badiou or Stiegler express in terms of subjugation. These power relationships are not, however, specific to contemporary Western Europe but are relevant to the period of the great discoveries, where discourse on the identity of the other encountered cultural resistance, inducing a complex relationship to otherness requiring rethinking the place of each person in political and religious equilibria. This discourse, situated somewhere between comparatism with the Old World and a recognition of irreducible difference, establishes and underlies power relationships, the latter revealing the difficult thinking of this mirror image held up to us by the Other. Similarly, in post-colonial contexts as different as those in Ireland, Scotland or South Africa, tensions between the local and the global are exacerbated and the interactions between fiction in faction become new stakes. We also find this political dimension in social media with the example of newscasts, where the journalist’s voice becomes that of an “author” (Goffman) through a mixture of irony and factuality that introduces a game with reality. More generally, a whole section of contemporary philosophy (Deleuze, Badiou, Braidotti, Derrida, Agamben) questions the political and ideological substratum implicit in the “great nomad” that capitalism has become (Braidotti), among other ways through media proliferation. These thinkers are part of “the philosophical tradition of corporeal materialism […] which makes it possible to rethink materiality without essentialism” (Braidotti), an approach that also allows for overcoming dualisms of all kinds (body/mind, man/machine, man/woman, centre/periphery, nature/culture).

(Myriam Marrache-Gouraud, Joanna Thornborrow, Camille Manfredi, Thierry Robin, Gaïd Girard.)


3/ Screen culture and digital subjectivity

This will involve studying the impact of screen culture and communication technologies (networks, screens, the digitisation of information and its widespread dissemination) on a new conception of Man as a subject. Are the new sensoriality regimes specific to new media open to a redefinition of being-in-the-world? Are new forms of experience emerging from the mechanical repetition of the media flows that henceforth constitute our daily environment? One of the objectives will be the exploration of these new forms of expression, discourse, and the relationship to the world by analysing the multiplication of new interfaces, these “devices” (Agamben), emerging from new technologies, that change our relationship to others and to a world that can be defined as a technical ecology (Nancy). Finally, and without going down the road of technophobia, it will be pertinent to observe the current trend of a screen society that seems to increasingly tend towards a disappearance (illusory or not) of interfaces, thereby inducing new forms of subjectivity and of relationships to the world. (Joanna Thornborrow, Hélène Machinal, Gaïd Girard.) Luz Zapata-Reinert’s IBSHS (Brest Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences) project could also be relevant here.



Constructions and Boundaries of Identity

(Coordinators: R. Hannachi, M. Saki)


Corpus linguistics, discourse analysis and identity boundaries.


Our project is to discuss two disciplines, corpus linguistics and discourse analysis, in order to study the constructions and boundaries of identity (religious, ethnic, social, gender, etc.), the putting into words of a collective self and its relationship with its multiple othernesses.

Discourse is understood here as a set of acts of language that aims to accomplish social acts. The latter always have a perlocutionary aim; in this case, to put personal and collective identities into words. Corpus linguistics allow us to constitute a corpus on the theme of identity, nation and ‘Americanness’ in order to identify semantic prototypes, collocations within different communities of discourse. The corpus will include different genres of discourse, such as political speeches, newspaper articles (national, regional, community), sermons, etc. Our project thus intends to take into consideration the discursive functioning of our corpus, the specificity of its linguistic materiality and its persuasive dynamics, in order to identify the linguistic markers and traces of the construction of the identity and the figure of the Other in discourse, taking into account the fundamentally dialogic and specular dimension of the latter.

We will study the collocations and attributes associated with the words ‘America’ and ‘American’: Black Americans, Muslim Americans, Jewish Americans, etc. This will help us highlight the recurrent and/or underlying themes and representations of our corpus. We will examine the relationships that exist between these identity constructions: Do they fit into a continuum? Do they coexist peacefully or do they experience conflicting and agonistic relationships? Are they constructed as minority identities or not? Are they opposed to a threatening or dominant otherness? We will build up satellite corpora for comparative studies and we could adopt a diachronic approach in order to compare the collocations and attributes associated with the same word over a period of 30 years, before and after 9/11, etc.



Translation / Translation Studies

(Coordinators: B. Jeanjean, J. Thornborrow)


There are five main reasons explaining the strong dynamic behind this programme within HCTI:

1. Among the HCTI linguists (from the ERLA research team in Applied Linguistics), many are interested in translating and/or teaching aspects of translation.

2. The team includes experts from a wide panel of languages (ancient and modern): Greek, Latin, English, Spanish, German and Chinese.

3. Many of us work in a scientific field that touches on the problems and issues of translation and textual representation.

4. In 2011 and 2014 we hosted in Brest the International T&R - Theories and Realities in Translation forum, a venue for a wealth of scientific and professional exchanges between translatologists and professional translators. We already have well-established ties with KU Leuven University in Belgium, and with the Universities of Bologna and Naples in Italy.

5. HCTI also endorses a professional Master’s degree in Technical Writing and Translation: M2 R/T.


To develop this “Intersections” field of study, the languages, texts and genres, and to encourage exchanges between HCTI researchers and researchers from other teams, we propose setting up a monthly translation workshop. This workshop could first be operational on an experimental basis from September 2015, before being included within the framework of the new contract in September 2017. At the local level, the objectives of this workshop will be to share our research work and develop projects related to translation. It could also be an opportunity to invite researchers (translatologists, linguists, etc.) at national and international levels, and to participate in international symposia.

It is above all a matter of comparing practical experience with theoretical approaches in the field of translation. Some of us are primarily practitioners of translation while others are more theoreticians. It is not a question of changing points of view, but only of discussing and comparing them.

For example, we could question the difference between the translation of an original text and that of a text that has already been the subject of several previous translations. Why and when is it decided that a new translation of The Iliad, Ulysses or Don Quixote, for example, is necessary? To what extent are translators willing to step back from the source text, and why? The experience of each translator on a text in progress or on a translation already carried out will provide its share of answers to these questions, as well as to all those that we can formulate.



Intersections between Text/Context and Social Discourse

(Coordinators: G. Rolland-Lozachmeur, J. Thornborrow)


For several years now, the ERLA research team has been working on various linguistic aspects in specialist texts, including in the areas of scientific, political, epistolary and advertising discourse (see the works below edited by David Banks and published in 2014, 2013 and 2011).


The new HCTI “Leading lines” five-year plan and especially Field of Study 3 “Intersections” allow us to turn our gaze towards linguistic and discursive applications to the analysis of contemporary texts and contexts that are increasingly defined by their characteristics of hybridity (Gambier and Suomela-Salmi, 2011), multi-modality (Kress and van Leeuwen, 2001), and no longer by their intertextuality (Bakhtine, 1984), but by what we can now refer to as their inter-discursivity.


In the Web 2.0 environment, in the discourses of public institutions available on line, as well as in the discourses of the forums and social media where the use of linguistic forms mixing the written and the oral have always been found, new discursive practices transversal to several communicative modes are developing. But it is also in the more traditional texts (newspapers, advertising documents, television programmes, etc.) that its new forms can be seen.


It is on the subject of this intersection, the discursive contexts (health, education, politics, media, science), public/private communication discourses, and the modes of expression that materialise them, that this project will be built. Its objective will be the analysis of these processes of hybridisation, of written and oral variation, and of mixed practices of meaning (text, image, language) in all of its linguistic and communicative forms.