Suzanne LaLonde CV 02/24

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Informational Flyer about Paris and Its Revolutionary Ideas  (Cognella 2021)

Book review by Professor Erika Hess in the French Review, March 2023:

"Can the past shed light on our future?" (xviii). That is the question that LaLonde asks as she searches for guidance––for herself and her students––in dealing with contemporary social, environmental, and medical crises. Turning to French revolutionary thinkers, she answers that through them "we may very well" find inspiration and guidance (xviii). LaLonde's original and ambitious work is designed as a textbook for students studying Parisian culture; it includes analyses of writers, artists, philosophers, scientists, and others who "confronted troubling times" in their own eras and "responded with revolutionary ideas" (xviii). She divides her study into ten chapters based on forms of revolution: educational, moral, ethical, political, emotional, artistic, psychological, metaphysical, psycho-philosophical, and global. Each chapter is clearly organized, beginning with a timeline of the key events, and including "Tool Boxes" with study tips, such as "History to Focus on While Reading" (3) or "Concepts from Literature to Focus On" (9), as well as questions to assist students, "Connect the Past with the Present" (9), and "Thinking Allowed: Topics to Ponder and Debate in Class" (xxii). Each chapter also has a "we may very well guide" (or guides), a key figure or writer in the revolutionary idea of that chapter. Throughout her study, LaLonde draws particular attention to paradigm shifts that "promoted a greater sense of dignity for humanity and the natural environment" (xviii), and she focuses primarily on literature and art because, she says, "Literature and art not only make us hear the voice of the voiceless, but they also prime our minds to feel empathy for others" (xx). LaLonde periodically relates a chapter's topic of study to contemporary issues to aid students in drawing connections between the past and present. For example, in her discussion of André Breton, LaLonde contrasts the revolutionary expansiveness of surrealism with the lack of innovation of realism, saying: "Images from realist literature mirror viral clichés on Facebook, kitschy objects for sale at a museum, or stock images on the Internet" (133). She incorporates a vast range of material, first providing necessary historical background for each chapter and then undertaking an analysis of some key works. For example, in chapter IX, "A Psycho-Philosophical Revolution: A Decolonization of the Mind," LaLonde begins with a summary of "colonial history in general" and then moves on to the history of the French colonial empire––together these comprise six pages (168-174); she then turns to Albert Camus and Frantz Fanon, providing a brief biography of each, followed by a short study of their key works. Finally, LaLonde discusses the Quai Branly Museum and its "contradictory goals" (182). Given the broad range of topics, LaLonde's treatment of each is necessarily introductory, however her original perspective and stimulating choice of topics create an [End Page 298] exciting and timely study. The textbook could be used in its entirety for a lower-division course of French culture focusing on Paris, or it could be supplemented for more advanced courses. The book is written entirely in English (all French words and phrases are translated). 

Erika E. Hess, Northern Arizona University

Copyright © 2023 American Association of Teachers of French

Link to purchase an electronic copy

Informational Flyer about Trauma, Post-traumatic Growth, and World Literature   (Routledge 2022)

Book review by Professor Emeritus Dominick LaCapra on Amazon June 2022:

Suzanne LaLonde’s impressive book belongs on the shelf of all students of trauma, its history, and contemporary conceptions of it . She provides a comprehensive overview of the field and indicates forcefully the nature of her own intervention in it. Her discussion of more scientific treatments is clear, succinct, and well-informed, especially with respect to neurophysiology. And her particular interest is in cultural, humanistic, and literary endeavors. Especially noteworthy is her striking analysis of Don Quixote and its relation to the traumas of aging and of war as well as the role of humor in addressing them. Along with a broad range of references in world literature, she provides extensive analyses of Camus’s The Plague, Sartre’s Nausea, and Le Clézio’s Desert. Fully recognizing the disorientation and suffering that traumatic experiences inflict on victims, she stresses the crucial role of resistance, resilience, and even revolt in confronting the traumatic and posttraumatic and striving for survivorship and agency. Moreover, she argues cogently that reading, writing, and interpreting literature can be creative and therapeutic as well as vehicles of critical judgment in effectively engaging and coming to terms with trauma and its aftermath. Her book is a basic, enlightening contribution whose abundant, thought-provoking material should engender discussion and debate in a field that, as her work demonstrates, still has much to offer.

Dominick LaCapra, Cornell University emeritus, author of Writing History, Writing Trauma


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