Past event

CPI -- Research Seminar with Dr A. Dickow Pascale Petit, Seductive Grammarian: the Audacity of Audacity

In 2019, a graduate student at Virginia Tech, Annetta Riley, completed the first extensive study of Pascale Petit's poetry to date, under the direction of her professor, Alexander Dickow. The following intervention takes as its starting point the fascination Petit's work provoked for this student. It will investigate Pascale Petit's latest book of poetry, Audacity (2020). This book returns to a recurring narrative decor in Petit's work: that of the fairytale. Here, this genre's familiar roles become the pretext in an elaborate game of seduction. Woven into this lover's discourse is a competing textual model: that of the grammar book. Audacity is shot through with numerous example sentences, which undermine narrative by maintaining a conjectural atmosphere where there are no events, only propositions. The proposition can be a dry statement, detached from usage for the purposes of analysis, or else it can be a most suggestive invitation. Audacity is an ars amatoria, a grammar of love; its falsely impersonal examination of its own discourse is the very ruse it uses to seduce the reader.

Alexander Dickow is a poet, novelist, translator and scholar of French and Francophone literature and film of the 20th and 21st Centuries. He is associate professor of French at Virginia Tech, and writes in French and English. His most recent books include Déblais (Louise Bottu, 2021), a collection of fragments on art and literature.