Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi (PSUAD) inaugurated its literary salon, which is set to become a monthly staple, organized by PSUAD’s French Studies Department, to discuss topics in French and Arabic literature. The salon will be moderated by Vital Rambaud, Head of the PSUAD French Studies Department.
Pr. Eric Fouache, PSUAD Vice-Chancellor, observed that the literary salon is a form of communication between creators of art and the audience. It creates a space, on a small scale, for dialogue, debate, and the exchange of ideas on cultural and intellectual issues and themes. In its present form, one could argue that it is descended from the literary majlis of Islamic Arab culture of times past. Pr. Fouache explained that literary salons are a long-held tradition in Europe, especially in France which is renowned for its literary gatherings.
Pr. Fouache noted that PSUAD’s literary majlis is a small-scale oasis for nurturing culture and ideas, especially given the university’s conviction that such gatherings foster dialogue and foreground diverse intellectual and cultural activities. Such salons are increasingly important in today’s image culture, of cable television, the internet, and the hegemony of consumerist values.
Pr. Fouache underscored the keen interest of French literature in the East, which began with the Renaissance and grew to its current scope. He said that the idea behind the salon is to bring together, every month, poets, novelists, and intellectuals to discuss a preselected theme, in addition to each of them presenting their latest works, engaging diverse perspectives, and discussing various topics of interest.
Vital Rambaud, Head of PSUAD’s French Studies Department, explained that the literary salon will be held on the first week of every month, at the campus library, by the PSUAD French Studies Department. Rambaud noted that this type of activity is rather a roundtable or forum for discussing and debating a particular literary topic.
Vital Rambaud observed that the salon will host novelists from the UAE and abroad, based on the theme set for discussion. For instance, the December edition will touch on national poetry, to mark the UAE National Day celebrations, and will feature a reading by a national poet. November’s edition will tackle the works of the famous French novelist Albert Camus, as part of the commemorative events that will be held in Paris in his honor. The March edition will celebrate the French language and international women’s day, and will therefore revolve around women writers and innovators. April’s edition will address writing and publishing in the digital age, in conjunction with the book fair that will be held during that month.
Vital Rambaud urged young people and students, no matter what their disciplines, to attend and take part in the literary salon as an opportunity to engage in community participation and dialogue, to overcome any lack of confidence, and unleash their creative potentials. He expressed his hope that the salon will leave a lasting mark on UAE cultural life and become a cultural and intellectual powerhouse, cementing PSUAD’s role as a beacon of education and culture in the region.
Vital Rambaud highlighted PSUAD’s keenness to play a key role in the dissemination of culture in the community and to change the perception of literature as a hobby rather than a career path and professional discipline in which young people will major in the future. Indeed, the salon will schedule a session on this particular subject, given its importance. Dr. Rambaud added that it is a widely held belief in the Arab region that literature is pointless and that PSUAD will endeavor to prove that literature is intellectually valuable and financially rewarding.
Vital Rambaud noted that the literary salon will reach out to various groups in the community to propose ideas and themes for discussion on campus and to allow interested Emirati literati to suggest topics of interest to them.