Marianne Midwest Series

The Cultural Services of the French Consulate in Chicagothe Alliance Française of Chicago,The France Chicago Center, and the University of Chicago French Club have joined forces to create the Marianne Midwest Series. It consists of a series of web debates on contemporary topics, meant to bring together American and French points of view, and to reach Midwest partners. The speakers discuss a contemporary global topic in Chicago, followed by a question and answer session with the audience and partner locations. The featured speaker presents in English, or in French with the assistance of an interpreter. Through this series of debates, mutual representations between the United States and France are challenged and re-evaluated. 

With the addition of these online resources, we wish to extend the messages and discussions of Marianne Midwest beyond the live webcast events. Each webinar kit includes a video recording of the event, program overview and outline, information about the speaker, discussion questions, and online articles and videos to provide further context and depth to the subjects. We hope that with these materials, organizations can host further Marianne Midwest group viewings accompanied by their own unique discussions and debates. With a large monitor or projector with speakers connected to a computer, the lectures can easily be projected to a local audience.

Through these webinars, both live and recorded, Marianne Midwest extends an invitation to everyone to remain or become a Francophile and Francophone with a contemporary mindset in the heartland of America.

Understanding Inequality and What To Do About It

with Thomas Piketty | November 6, 2015

In this discussion, French economist and expert on wealth and income inequality Thomas Piketty presents his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century. He focuses on the long-run dynamics of income inequality, highlighting that institutions and policies greatly impact income and wealth concentrations from country to country. He then explains the current shift towards a return to a patrimonial or wealth-based society, citing what he calls “the metamorphosis of capital.” In conclusion, Piketty draws from his research and data and comments about the future of wealth concentration. A Question and Answer portion follows the presentation, moderated by Kerwin Charles, Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman, Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. 

My Three Lives: an artist talk

with Agnès Varda | October 9, 2015

In this discussion, acclaimed artist Agnès Varda speaks and reflects on various stages of her career as a photographer, filmmaker and visual artist. She discusses her modest beginnings in photography, saying she was a photographer long before she was a filmmaker. The discussion continues with various excepts and clips from many of her films including Uncle Yanco, Vagabond, Cléo from 5 to 7 and her autobiographical documentary, The Beaches of Agnès. She also meditates on what it means to be a filmmaker and the importance to follow one’s joy, excitement, and surprise. 

Who is Charlie?: A Conversation on Freedom of Expression

with Zineb El Rhazoui (Charlie Hebdo Journalist) | February 26, 2015

Zineb El Rhazoui, a human rights activist and a journalist for Charlie Hebdo explores in depth the themes of blasphemy, censorship, and freedom of expression following the reactions to the events of Charlie Hebdo’s publications of cartoons depicting the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. The French concept of “laïcité,” secularism, and the history of the Charlie Hebdo publication are also discussed.

The Art of Intervention: Diplomacy and Deployment after Iraq

with Dominique de Villepin (former Prime Minister of France) | November 14, 2014

Drawing from his exceptional knowledge and experience, Former French Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, Dominique de Villepin presents an in-depth analysis of international crises facing the world today.

The Future of the Humanities

with Julia Kristeva and Arnold Davidson | October 11, 2013

In this discussion, Julia Kristeva and Arnold Davidson discuss the future of the Humanities in North America and Europe. Referencing several thinkers such as Michel Foucault, Primo Levi, and Immanuel Kant, this discussion touches on a range of issues concerning the humanities. The program starts with Kristeva’s presentation of the crisis of civilization. Then, Arnold Davidson presents his idea of humanism and the concept of “humanities.” Moving on, he describes reading as a spiritual exercise and the importance of communication.

The Franco-Arab Thing: Exploring Centuries of Franco-Arab Relations

with Henry Laurens | April 29, 2014 

Henry Laurens, one of France’s foremost experts on the Middle East, explores in depth the complex and fascinating relationship between France and the Arab world, from colonialism to present-day tensions, on a quest to uncover the “Franco-Arab thing.” The program begins with an explanation of the origin of the phrase “the Franco-Arab thing” before moving on to an overview of the history of the relations between France and the Arab world. He concludes with dual, shifting dimensions of the history of France and their modern day manifestations.

Neither Whores nor Submissive: The Burqa Ban in France

with Fadela Amara | May 22, 2013

Fadela Amara (Ni Putes Ni Soumises founder and former French minister) describes the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the predominantly poor immigrant neighborhoods surrounding French cities (banlieues) that led to the ban on face coverings. She explains why she considers the wearing of face coverings in public to be both oppressive for women and an assault on the values upon which the French Republic is founded. Furthermore, she discusses the aftermath of the ban in France, the goals that Ni Putes Ni Soumises continues to pursue, its partners at home and abroad, and the impact of the national and international political climate on men and women in the banlieues.