French and Francophone Studies

Equinoxes Grad Student Conference

Equinoxes is a graduate student conference committed to academic excellence and creative scholarship organized by the graduate students of Brown University’s Department of French and Francophone Studies.

Inaugurated in 1993 and named for the vernal equinox, every Spring the department gathers graduate students from all over the world for this collegiate conference and to take advantage of the congenial atmosphere of Rochambeau House, home to the Department of French and Francophone Studies.  Each year a new theme is featured and participants share new research and ideas as well as strengthen and promote graduate student research.   Take a look at our archives for a list of topics from past events. 


April 19-20, 2024

In Sylvie Germain's 1985 novel, Le Livre des Nuits, bodily fluids serve as potent metaphors for the transmission of trauma from parent to child. Tears, milk, and blood become powerful symbols of familial relations. The exchange of bodily fluids has long represented human relationships, where substances like breastmilk, saliva, and sexual fluids metonymically represent the bodies they originate from and the relationships they form and sustain.

Fluids thus serve as reminders of a body’s permeability, of its fallibility. The body is not a perfectly closed system, but one that is in flux, one that exceeds its own seemingly fixed boundaries. Fluids also offer duality, for bodies can be nourished by an exchange of fluids just as easily as they can be harmed by one; bodies can be made clean by fluids, just as easily as they can be dirtied by them. Porters of nutrition and of contagion, fluids are paradoxical, transitory, and essential. As a critical framework, fluidity invites us to consider the paradoxes, liminalities, and boundaries of our world.

This conference aims to interrogate and engage with fluids as objects of study and fluidity as a theoretical framework. We invite exploration of fluids in their materiality and fluidity as a framework that deconstructs and subverts. We seek answers to questions such as: How fluid are our representations of self and others? What transformations and convergences occur when bodies (of all kinds) interact? Which states of matter matter when negotiating identity and environment? Bodies release various substances—liquids, solids, gasses—that are registered in multisensorial ways. And our sensory perceptions, from smelling another's perfume to hearing their voice, play a vital role in shaping our understanding of the world. We invite papers engaging with the role of the senses in bodily interactions and multisensorial environments.

As The Sensory Studies Manifesto states, “The senses are everywhere. They mediate the relationship between idea and object, mind and body, self and society, culture and environment” (13). This conference encourages exploration of these mediations and promotes a fluid, moving, and decentered approach to thinking gender, bodies, environments, literary genres, and sensory experiences.

As an interdisciplinary conference, Equinoxes encourages submission from a variety of fields, including but not limited to literature, philosophy, history, ethnography, anthropology, media studies, sensory studies, disability studies, sociology, art history, religious studies, women's, gender, and sexuality studies, and political science, provided that the presentation relate to French or Francophone studies.