Réflexion / Édition / Action / Interaction
dans la correspondance

Dominique Scheffel-Dunand / Alexandre Sévigny
Département d'Études françaises
Université de Toronto

Research Opportunity Program (ROP 299)
Department of French Studies and Faculty of Arts and Science
University of Toronto

A Project of the Centre for 19th Century French Studies:
Editing a correspondence

Participants :
  • Lillian Barra
  • Tanya Magnus
  • Kathy Marek
  • Nathalie Obregon
  • Nimisha Visram
  • Michel Duquet
Supervisors :
  • Prof. Dorothy Speirs
  • Prof. Yannick Portebois

By May, 2000, the students involved in this ROP project will present an annotated, critical edition of 187 letters from Ernest Alfred Vizetelly (1853-1922), an English editor and translator, to Emile Zola (1840-1902), French novelist, art critic, dramatist and journalist. The purpose of the course is twofold. The two-hour weekly seminars are divided into two sections, of which the first takes the form of a lecture on various social, literary and historical movements which characterized the "Belle Epoque" in France and the "Gay Nineties" in England. With this background in place, the students began to explore the principles of editing a correspondence (transcription, dating, establishment of texts, annotation, etc.). These two sections converse, as the students, each assigned a series of some 25-30 letters, present and edit the text, using the principles which they have learned in the seminars.

The letters stretch over an 11 year period, from 1891 until the novelist's death in 1902. They chronicle one of the most interesting periods in Zola's life, one in which he was hailed as an internationally known author, whose work was being translated into a dozen languages. Vizetelly, as his English-language translator, had the job of not only translating but of promoting and selling the works in England, in "the colonies" and in the United States. Over the years, the two men became friends as well as colleagues, and the letters are a mine of information on not only literary affairs, but on copyright law, on English and French society at the turn of the 20th century and, very importantly, on the Dreyfus Affair, which revolutionized France and at whose centre was Emile Zola.

Zola, defending Alfred Dreyfus and exposing the French military's cover-up with his open letter to the President of the French Republic "J'ACCUSE", was exiled to England in July 1898 where he stayed until June 1899. During the period of his exile, Vizetelly and his family were of assistance to Zola, who spoke not a word of English, in day-to-day affairs -- finding accommodation, shopping for food and other necessities and so forth.

Thinking the Process Through Discussion :

The videos below illustrate the students discussing the effects of Information Technology on their ROP 299 Project. The first video consists of a class discussion and subsequent videos are conversations between paris of students.

Class Discussions (31.5 Mb)
Depending on your computer's software, you may have to push a play button, or double click directly on the photo to start the movie.

Lillian & Tanya (23.1 Mb)

Cathy & Nimisha (9.25 Mb)

Michel & Nathalie (13.1 Mb)

The Four Stages of the Annotation Process:

Zola Thinkwire Workshop
Dominique Scheffel
Alexandre Sévigny

This forum is presented to you via, Thinkwire, an on-line software discussion solution designed to facilitate discussion and the exchange of ideas in a structured environment in real-time and from a distance. Key ideas and discussion themes are presented in tree-structures. This allows all participants to follow the logic and thematic structure of the discussion and to evaluate the comments made by the other discussants. Participants are also able to conduct advanced searches in the database used by the program which contains a structured record of all the activities conducted in the forum.
Page créée par Alexandre Sévigny (Université de Toronto), Ian Nastajus (Riverdale CI), le 4 avril 2000. 
Tous droits réservés.