Programme D: The Subject as Object

Research Head: Sophie Vallas (Professor)

Members: Wilfrid Andrieu (Lecturer), Nicolas Boileau (Lecturer), Aurélie Ceccaldi (Lecturer), Jean-Louis Claret (Senior Lecturer), Patrick Di Mascio (Senior Lecturer), Suzanne Fraysse (Lecturer), Adrian Harding (Lecturer), Valérie Kerfelec (Lecturer), Grégoire Lacaze (Senior Lecturer), Sébastien Lefait (Lecturer), Monique de Mattia-Viviès (Professor), Richard Phelan (Lecturer), Linda Pillière (Professor), Anne Reynes Senior Lecturer), Claire Sorin (Lecturer), Laurence Sterritt (Senior Lecturer), Sophie Vallas (Professor), Jean Viviès (Professor), Sara Watson (Lecturer)

Doctoral students: Issa Cissé, Diego Iturriaga, Jessica Jimeno, Marie Gourrut, Marilyn Lemery, Nicolas Locks, Sylvie Peres-Waight, Laura Vaccariello, Pauline Ziserman

Doctors collaborating with LERMA: Laurence Benarroche, Maryam Thirriard, Florence Floquet, Alexandra Pedinielli-Féron


The programme gathers themes that focus on writing the subject, on how it is inscribed within various practices, be they textual or visual; a subject which is reconsidered and seized in new autobiographical approaches, a subject that is both observer and observed by the other,  a subject which masters and manipulates its own speech. The aim is to consider the subject as an object of research in a broad sense (individual or collective subject, human or not) – a central theme in current Arts and Humanities studies – in a transversal perspective which generates a dialogue between history, literature, linguistics, stylistics, the visual arts, philosophy, anthropology or sociology. The place of the reader and the spectator, assigned or produced by the speech produced by or concerning the subject, is an essential element in the origins of processes of (de)construction, transgression, representation and designation, visibility and appearance, on which this programme intends to shed light.

Theme D2: New Frontiers of Self-Narrative

Research Head: Sophie Vallas

Members: Nicolas Boileau (Lecturer), Sébastien Lefait (Professor), Claire Sorin (Lecturer), Sophie Vallas (Professor), Sara Watson (Lecturer)

Doctoral students: Marie Gourrut, Jessica Jimeno, Marilyn Lemery, Nicolas Locks, Sylvie Peres-Waight, Pauline Ziserman

Doctors collaborating with LERMA: Laurence Benarroche, Maryam Thirriard

The researchers collaborating around this theme offer an exploration of the multiple faces of self-narration, from autobiographical texts to autofictional writings, from daily writings (diaries) to styles mixing personal and professional writing, which the recent notion of ego-history, for example, has encouraged. The aim is thus to study the various ways in which self-narration has never ceased highlighting its own impossibility, flirting with its limits and exploring new boundaries. Rather than studying the genre of autobiographical writing (as much research has already been conducted on this), the subject at the core of our theme’s research projects will be the autobiographer/autofictionalist figure. Since 2020, Theme D2 has launched a project on self-narration in the United States, as written by teachers or teacher-researchers, in the 19th and 20th centuries. These texts, stories that are personal but also imply exchanges and dialogue with other thinking individuals, will be studied as places with a coexistence of the ‘I who teach’ voice, the presence of addressees as well as a trace of what is taught – not to mention, for some of them, the performance that teaching can often entail. Can these texts, often activist in nature, be considered as intellectual, or even emotional autobiographies?

Theme D3. Subjectivity and Construction of the Visible

Research Heads: Jean-Louis Claret and Richard Phelan

Members: Jean-Louis Claret (Senior Lecturer), Suzanne Frayse (Lecturer), Richard Phelan (Lecturer), Anne Reynès (Senior Lecturer)

This theme focuses on the various declensions of the visible. Thus it mainly examines the works of art conceived to be offered up to the eye: painting, photography, sculpture and art installations are obviously considered. Theatre is also included as it is the ultimate place where one sees. Novels can also be within the theme’s scope when ekphrasis elaborates an internal gaze, accessible to the mind’s eye. Our research’s line of enquiry is multiple, as it considers what is both upstream and downstream of the works of art studied. Taking into account their addressees is a major aspect of our approach, which links it to the theories of reception aesthetics developed by the Ecole de Constance in the 1970s (see H.J. Jauss’s work). However, we also examine the view which is expected by the creator, and thus what may be termed the ‘pre-history’ of its creation. Between the upstream and the downstream of the work of art lies the work itself, inviting us to look at visibility and ways of creating, deciphering, displaying, and using it.

Theme D4. Style(s) & Representation(s). The Inevitable Subject

Research Head: Monique De Mattia-Viviès

Members: Wilfrid Andrieu (Lecturer), Aurélie Ceccaldi (Lecturer), Valérie Kerfelec (Lecturer), Monique De Mattia-Viviès (Professor), Grégoire Lacaze (Senior Lecturer), Linda Pillière (Professor)

Doctoral students: Issa Cissé, Julie Dallinges, Diego Iturriaga, Nicolas Locks, Aïcha Rahal, Laura Vaccariello

Doctors collaborating with LERMA: Alexandra Pedinielli-Féron, Florence Floquet

This theme tackles the notion of the subject seen from complementary angles: a dual subject, in the context of reported speech; an author-subject, in the context of research dissemination in English grammar; and a societal subject, in the context of sociolinguistics, which requires historical, societal, and identity parameters to be considered.

To this end, research work on the theme is structured around two complementary lines of enquiry, which converge on the notion of grammar, seen from two angles:

  1. grammar as a place for synchronic research that is, among others, syntactic, pragmatic or stylistic in type, carried out from a dual perspective: on the one hand, fundamental research, in the continuity of previous activities, particularly on reported speech, and on the other hand the passing-on of fundamental research, without restricting the topics to reported speech; a reflection is carried out on the subject as the author (of grammars) of a constitutively heterogeneous speech, and on the subject as a reporter, particularly in the context of reported speech, the heterogeneity of which is shown.
  2. grammar as a place for sociolinguistic research, where it is considered in its social dimension and evolution, through its norms and margins, which result from its social part, working it from within, and putting it to the test. This angle of approach, which focuses more precisely on the identity dimension of the subject, develops an aspect that was already present in the group’s work during the previous structuring of LERMA.

The two main lines of the theme thus intersect in how grammar is considered and represented, as a set of rules at a given moment (synchrony), which must be passed on with an educational intention, and a place of evolution (diachrony), which raises the question of the stability of their transmission. They are articulated around the notion of the subject, which underpins and structures all the research carried out by LERMA. Theme D4 therefore has its rightful place within Programme D, whose identity is summed up by its title, ‘The Subject as Object’. The theme has a revolving seminar, currently devoted to grammar from a didactic perspective (2019–2021): The seminar was previously dedicated to reported speech (2017–2019):é-et-subjectivité