Julie Robert is a researcher of social, cultural and political uses of the body. Her current explorations of this notion centre on embodied philanthropy initiatives such as FebFast, Movember and Dry July which call on participants to use their bodies for charity fundraising and health education. She has also explored this topic in relation to nationalism, literature and political rhetoric that relies on tropes of illness and disease in her work on 20th century Québécois fiction and political discourse, most notably in her most recent book Curative Illnesses: Medico-National Allegory in Québécois Fiction (McGill-Queens 2016).
She is Teaching & Learning Coordinator for the School of International Studies, where she also coordinates the Canada (Quebec) major within the Bachelor of Arts in International Studies as well as the Bachelor or Global Studies. Julie's teaching covers many aspects of Francophone and transnational culture and draws on her research interests in classes such as Francophone Cultures of Consumption (focusing on alcohol and drinking in Francophone societies), Francophone visual cultures (focusing on questions of postcolonialism and visual culture as public pedagogy), Cultures of Globalisation and contemporary Québécois culture and social issues.
She earned her doctorate at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor USA in 2009, where she taught French language and literature and co-directed the summer study abroad program in Grenoble, France.
- 2015 Australian Award for University Teaching citation for outstanding contributions to student learning
- 2015 FASS Learning.Futures Fellow
- 2013 UTS Learning & Teaching Citation
- Postgraduate Officer, Australian Society for French Studies (2016)
- Editorial board member of Portal: Multidisciplinary Journal of International Studies
- Australian Society for French Studies
- Languages & Cultures Network for Australian Universities
Can supervise: YES
Embodied philanthropy (Movember, Julyna, Steptember)
Temporary sobriety initiatives (Dry July, FebFast, Ocsober)
Life writing about/by drunken or alcoholic authors and the difficulties of narration
French as 'global language' and its pedagogical implications
Quebec and la Francophonie
Medical discourse in popular writing
Cultural Studies of alcohol
Francophone and postcolonial literary studies
- All levels of French language and culture
- Francophone cultural studies
- Québécois and Canadian Studies
- Cultural globalisation
- Qualitative research methods (undergraduate and postgraduate)
- Distance and on-campus supervision of major undergraduate research projects
Otsuji, E, Gavran, M, Groeneveld, S, Andersen, M, Jeffreys, E, Goodman, DSG, Vanni Accarigi, I, Maggiora de Iturralde, P, Fletcher, N, Sharp, L, Sheldon, M, Browitt, J, Donald, S, Harbon, L, Mikula, M, Giovanangeli, A, Loda, A, Allatson, P, Hurley, A, Barclay, K, Robert, J, Rodriguez, M, Leigh, B, McCormack, J, Manganas, N, Wyndham, M & Aponte Ortiz, L 2019, Geographies of Food: The BA International Studies 25th Anniversary Cookbook, ed. Paul Allatson, Angela Giovanangeli and Emi Otsuji., 1st, School of International Studies and Education, FASS, UTS, Sydney.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
During a time of uncertainty over collective identity and social transformation, Quebec novels started getting sick - after 1940, the number of narratives about illness, disease, and sick characters intensified. For the last seventy years, generations of authors have turned to medically oriented stories to represent day to day life and political turmoil. In Curative Illnesses, Julie Robert investigates how the theme of sickness is woven into literature and gauges its effect on depictions of Quebec’s national identity.
Robert, JL 2011, A Nation's Ills: Medico-National Allegory in Quebec, 1940-1970, 1, ProQuest, Ann Arbor, MI.
When literary and political discourses in mid-twentieth century Quebec suddenly turned to tropes of illness and disease, nationalist critics deemed the nation that these illness narratives posited to be sick. Public health reports nevertheless attest to the rapidly improving health situation at this same time. Although the medical tropes created a paradox in which the nation is perceived as sicker than it actually is, Quebec's novels and political writings nonetheless expose the ways in which the relation of the medicalized body to the nation is challenged and disrupted. Working from the idea that nations and diseases come into being via parallel discursive processes, textual illnesses are revealed to not only be incomplete national allegories, but also allegories that are themselves "sick" in their inability to posit a nation. Gabrielle Roy's urban novels, Bonheur d'occasion and Alexandre Chenevert, along with Andre Langevin's Poussiere sur la ville , expose the ways in which diagnosing disease is not analogous to pronouncing the nation sick. Denis Lord's Aller-retour and Anne Bernard's Cancer use the figure of the sick doctor to question the nationalist historiographic tendency to read the Quiet Revolution as the end to the problematic rule of Quebec's traditional socio-cultural elites. Even, the political journal Cite Libre reveals how medical rhetoric in Quebec has transformed itself over time from expressing notions of sickness to those of cure. In rhetorically shifting sickness away from the nation and onto national allegories themselves, illness narratives are reframed as therapeutic spaces of resistance and cure, which destigmatize Quebec's national literature, and render the nation itself healthier. By acknowledging that it is the illness-driven process of positing the nation that creates the dire prognosis, it in turn becomes possible to move beyond the sick or victim-oriented idea of the nation popular in certain nationalist circles.
Robert, JL 2018, 'Escaping the everyday: The Loi Évin’s paradoxical sanctioning of appeals to travel and intoxication', French Cultural Studies, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 79-79.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Although designed to mitigate the normalising role that advertising can have on alcohol consumption, France’s Loi Évin (1991) has unwittingly channelled advertisers into reinforcing the link between their products and escapist pursuits. Where contemporary concerns about alcohol consumption in France have themselves been influenced by global trends in public health and alcohol studies, they revolve around the adoption of perceived ‘foreign’ drinking cultures, notably an embrace of drinking as a marker of leisure time and binge-drinking. Advertising strategies have accordingly countered by accentuating both leisure, in the form of travel, and intoxication. A visual semiotic analysis of recent French advertising campaigns for spirits and beer reveals layered signification of escapist themes, all in defiance of the spirit but not the letter of the Loi Évin.
Robert, JL 2018, 'Meeting the Sober Self, Recognizing the Drinking Self: Back to Baseline Experimentation in Temporary Sobriety Initiatives', Contemporary Drug Problems, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 283-302.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Temporary sobriety initiatives (TSIs), popular month-long campaigns in which people abstain from alcohol to raise money for charity, aim to change participants’ relationship with alcohol. Identifying the structural and practical mechanisms of TSIs that facilitate the desired changes is an important element in understanding their popularity and purported effectiveness as public health campaigns. Drawing upon in-depth interviews with 15 Australian FebFast participants, this article argues that TSI participants, often guided by campaign organizers, loosely adopt the self-tracking and self-experimentation practices of the Quantified Self (QS) movement, which open up aspects of oneself and of alcohol that are normally hidden in order to facilitate self-improvement via discovery. Drew Leder’s corporeal phenomenology of absence and presence underpins the analysis of howTSI participants contrast deliberate periods of sobriety and inattentive normal drinking to convert abstract knowledge about alcohol and its effects into personally salient information based on lived experience. In doing so, participants shift the valence of their ambivalence about drinking even at moderate levels and convert it from the less behaviorally impactful potential ambivalence to its more influential felt form. Through such experiments, TSI participants problematize their drinking; make real the physical, psychological, and social impacts of alcohol; and even redefine what they know it to be.
Robert, JL 2018, 'Practices and Rationales of Embodied Philanthropy', International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 1-9.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
In the past decades, philanthropy, like many aspects of contemporary culture, has taken a bodily turn. This paper argues that embodied philanthropy, the temporarily alteration of one's physical appearance or routine behaviors in support of a cause, is flourishing because the body simultaneously and with relatively little effort serves the various needs of both participants and campaign organizers. The body's multivalent semiotic potential allows it to be, when philanthropically tasked, an income generator, billboard, martyred example, producer of emotion, pedagogical space, exemplar of good health, and style project and to cohere these functions despite potential tensions.
A series of micro-case studies of various Australian appearance, activity, and abstention-based initiatives draws on cultural theories of the body to explicate these 7 core functions of the philanthropic body and highlight key concerns for campaign design and evaluation. This study contends that a holistic view of embodied philanthropy initiatives is needed to better understand their impact and provides practitioners and scholars with a framework for understanding an area of philanthropy where practice outstrips research.
Robert, JL 2017, 'A Nouveau Roman de la route: Marc Séguin’s La foi du braconnier and the Challenge of Rewriting', Australian Journal of French Studies, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 96-109.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Québécois novelist Marc Séguin’s La foi du braconnier (2009) is a road novel, an iconic American genre centred on the youthful quest for purpose and permissible rebellion against societal norms, reminiscent of Franco-American Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Far from being just another imitator of this genre-defining novel, Séguin’s tale of a Québécois-Mohawk poacher who decides to drive a route that spells out FUCK YOU on the North American continent also draws on elements of the Nouveau Roman to posit a fraught relationship between the acts of writing and driving that are central to the road genre. The novel’s fragmented narration in particular suggests that the self-expression and personal freedom sought on the road are illusory goals.
Robert, JL, Rolls, A & Vuaille-Barcan, M-L 2017, 'On Moving and (Inter) Disciplinarity: Thinking about Australian French Studies in the Active Voice', Australian Journal of French Studies, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 3-13.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Our aim in this introduction is to position all the articles that comprise this special
issue of the Australian Journal of French Studies within a framework of mobility
while highlighting how they each, individually, test and move (beyond) certain
frames. We are also writing in response to the annual conference of the Australian
Society for French Studies, which we co-convened in 2015 and at which the articles
included here were presented.1
As we began writing, as individuals working in
collaboration, the tension between our singular and collective identities became
visibly metonymic of the work that is generated in, and generates, French Studies.
Clearly, one of us has a deeper understanding of the mobilities at play in Francophone
Studies; one of us is more interested in the evolution of our disciplinarity, as French
lecturers, in light of student mobility and flexible modes of delivery; and one of
us cannot move in any direction without seeing Baudelaire. And yet in 2015 we
came together, as every year, with our colleagues from Australia and around the
world with a clear sense of what it means – to all of us, despite the nuances of our
institutional specificities – to work in French Studies. Thus, we decided to remove
our individual “I”s here, however transparent they may be, in order to write this
introduction not so much from the perspective of a royal, or even a republican,
“we” but rather from that of the first person mobile.
Robert, JL 2016, 'Temporary sobriety initiatives as public pedagogy: Windows of opportunity for embodied learning', Health: an interdisciplinary journal for the social study of health, illness and medicine, pp. 1-17.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Philanthropic temporary sobriety initiatives such as Dry July, FebFast and Ocsober have become increasingly popular in Australia and have begun to spread to other locations both for their fundraising potential and as a grassroots public health measure to promote more responsible attitudes to alcohol consumption. This article presents findings from a series of in-depth, post-campaign interviews with FebFast 2014 participants and staff about how these campaigns can be understood as a form of public pedagogy or non-traditional learning that purposefully cultivates and suggests health-promoting meanings for embodied experience. It explicates the mechanisms of public pedagogies that rely on embodiment and, importantly, considers the learner’s perspective on the pedagogical process. Temporary sobriety initiatives are found to operate thanks to (1) a structure that prescribes and facilitates short-term changes and enforces compliance with a social contract of philanthropy and (2) messaging that guides participants in their evaluation and assessment of their experience of temporary sobriety as physically and psychologically beneficial, as well as socially informative and impactful.
Robert, JL 2016, 'Temporary sobriety initiatives: emergence, possibilities and constraints', Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, vol. 30, no. 6, pp. 646-658.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
At the same time as the Australian media was focusing attention on problems stemming from youthful binge drinking and was decrying a problematic national drinking culture, voluntary (and often philanthropic) campaigns oriented around temporarily giving up alcohol emerged. Although these Temporary Sobriety Initiatives (TSI) originally positioned themselves as a solution to the problems being discussed, their popular appeal proved to be their alignment with larger currents of neoliberal governance in the fields of health, wellbeing, productivity and civic duty via philanthropy. This critical cultural history conducts a discourse analysis of TSI-generated materials and examines quantitative participant data to better understand how the initiatives framed themselves as a solution to the identified problems at the same time as they ever-more overtly pitched themselves to an already responsibilised segment of the population. The implications of these findings point to the larger role that TSI can play in addressing, in a non-regulatory way, both attitudes and behaviours among the majority of the population who are not considered problem drinkers.
Robert, JL 2015, 'Pa/enser bien le corps: Cognitive and Curative Language in Montaigne's Essais', Journal of Medical Humanities, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 241-250.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Montaigne's writings on medicine and the body have always been seen as part of a larger project about knowing ourselves. Responding to medical developments that seemed to privilege the anatomical body over the mind or the emotions, Montaigne defended the humoral link between mind and body. His essays make use of word play, puns, and anecdotes based on his own experience and reports from antiquity to counter what he perceived to be an increasingly one-sided approach to medicine. The result is a witty but nuanced argument for a more balanced outlook to what is now known as psychosomatic medicine.
Robert, JL 2014, 'Disabling Excess: Sacrificial Violence and Disability as Divine Punishment in Les Commettants de Caridad', Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 17-35.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This article examines the linguistic manifestations of the tension between notions of a healthy national drinking culture and the increasing homogenisation of problematic drinking practices in an era of globalised marketing and media influence. Taking the proliferation of English in France when it comes not only to alcohol advertising, but also public health discourses and mass media commentary as its object, this paper discerns patterns of and motivations for English language borrowings in French when discussing alcohol and immoderate drinking practices. Findings point to a double indexicality in these borrowings. On the one hand, the widespread use of English in alcohol advertising draws on and creates positive associations between English and Anglo-American culture and, on the other, the public health community's use of English terms like binge drinking designates problematic drinking behaviours as foreign and anathema to traditional modes of French alcohol consumption, and by extension to French cultural identity.
Robert, JL 2014, 'Selling the Cure: Quebec’s Parti Pris, the Disease of Colonialism and the Nationalist Remedy', Australasian Canadian Studies, vol. 31, no. 1-2, pp. 95-116.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Drawing inspiration from psychological discourses prominent in Francophone decolonization theory and Quebec’s homegrown tradition of medicalized political rhetoric, Parti pris—a socialist journal advocating separatism—used tropes of physical and mental illness to draw attention to national problems and to position the ideologies supported by its editors as the only effective cures to these national ills. This study takes a medical humanities approach to the problems with this rhetorical strategy to argue that an over-emphatic outlining of problems and the choice to prioritize schizophrenia as a national diagnosis for the ills of neo-colonialism generated its own resistances to the proposed solutions. Of particular concern are issues of sensationalism with regard to the medical and public health realities of Quebec at the time, a blurring of the connotative and denotative functions of medicalized language, and inconsistencies within the overall discursive strategy, particularly in relation to postcolonial intertexts and mental health discourse.
Wellman, S & Robert, JL 2014, 'Reinventing Regional Identity in Twenty-First Century Québécois and French Cinema', New Zealand Journal of French Studies, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 29-47.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Although rural and regional subjects and settings are well established conventions in both French and French Canadian literature and cinema, recent trends have seen filmmakers return to the rural and regional subject matter that had largely been abandoned in the closing years of the twentieth century. Drawing on, but also distinguishing themselves from their literary and cinematic antecedents, these modern films sought to connect with audiences by reinventing the rural. Using case studies of three filmsÉric Rohmers Les Amours d'Astrée et de Céladon which sought to recreate Honoré DUrfés seventeenth-century pastoral novel LAstrée, Dany Boons Bienvenue Chez les Chtis and Jean-François Pouliots La grande séductionthis paper argues that contemporary Francophone audiences demand a rural cinema that blends traditions of idealism and idylls with contemporary realities of life in regional France and Quebec.
Robert, JL 2013, 'Individualistic Philanthropy: The Paradox of Embodied Participation for Health-Related Fundraising Campaigns', International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 261-274.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Movember and Julyna have emerged as examples of health-related fundraising and awareness campaigns that require embodied participation in the form of temporary body modification. Reaching a younger demographic not traditionally motivated by appeals to altruism, these campaigns have capitalized on the signifying power of the body to reflect and construct identities and self-perceptions to motivate participation. Taking a cultural studies approach and employing visual, textual and discursive analyses of the campaigns websites, a primary vector for information dissemination and recruitment, this study highlights how philanthropic activity has been successfully coded as making participants more physically, sexually, and socially desirable. In promoting such individualistic motives for philanthropy, however, these campaigns further a mentality that philanthropy is foremost about personal gain. The challenge these initiatives pose is how to convert participants from individualistic to altruistic models of philanthropy.
Robert, JL 2013, 'You Eat What You Are: Identity Via Cannibalistic Food Ethics In Ying Chen's Le Mangeur', Portal Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 1-17.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Shanghai-born Québécoise Ying Chen focuses her super-natural 2006 novel, Le Mangeur, on the ethics of eating. Chens characters, half human and half fish hybrids, negotiate a personal but transgressive ethics of eating as a way of understanding who they are and what they value. Through unconventional but detailed descriptions of the act of eating and reactions to this processChen calls to mind debates about modern food politics and situates them on the knife-edge of binaries of self and other, living and dead, human and animal, edible and inedible implicit in questions of food in general, cannibalism in particular, and of the cultural questions of identity inherent to both. Taking the view that food ethics, like any ethics in the Foucauldian tradition, stem from ones particular and embodied situation, Chen proposes new meaning for food in (migrant) literature. In contrast to traditional scripts that use food to represent cultures, places and temporalities left behind, Chen insists on the physicality of eating, on the ontological difference between the diner and their dinner, to strip back the familiar tropes about food and identity and to question the basis for our understanding of food a locus for a larger identity.
Introduction to special edition of Portal.
This paper analyses Mad Men's relationship to creativity. Considering popular, industry-specific and scholarly understandings, this study uses close readings of the show and its narratological techniques to demonstrate how these potentially contradictory concepts and practices of creativity overlap in the show's fourth season. The points at which these understandings collide become sources of tension between characters and are marked by narrative gaps that conceal deceptive creativity. The conflicts centre on three primary debates: a) the role of alcohol in the creative process, b) industry-specific norms of creativity, and c) the popular perception that creativity is about expression. Consequently, this article approaches questions about creativity using the show's own partially elided debates and undermines widely-held romantic beliefs about the creative 'type' and the what exactly it means to sell creativity in a corporate setting.
This essay seeks to rationalize and explain the evolution of medical rhetoric in Cité libre by looking at trends in the journal's use of tropes of illness and disease. Through a combination of broad content analysis and close readings, it contrasts how individual metaphors create the impression of a sickening nation and the manner in which these metaphors collectively, albeit paradoxically, act as a national allegory of cure for mid-twentieth-century Quebec's social ills in general, and specifically for its pathological inferiority complex. By examining how the journal uses medical metaphors and specifically how the writers employed the trope of the body politic to illustrate Quebec's national failings, the essay demonstrates how Quebec challenges the rhetorical stability of the age-old metaphor as it attempts to solve, but also creates, problems within Quebec's articulation of its own nationhood.
Robert, J 2020, 'Twenty-first-century transnational neo-temperance' in Ernst, W (ed), Alcohol Flows Across Cultures Drinking Cultures in Transnational and Comparative Perspective, Routledge, London, pp. 221-240.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Robert, JL 2018, 'Twenty-first Century Transnational Neo-Temperance' in Ernst, W (ed), Alcohol Flows across Cultures: Drinking Cultures in Transnational and Comparative Perspective, Routledge, London.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Robert, JL 2017, 'Meeting the Sober Self, Recognising the Drinking Self: Back to Baseline Experimentation in Temporary Sobriety Initiative', 4th Contemporary Drug Problems Conference, Helsinki.
Temporary sobriety initiatives (TSIs), popular month-long campaigns in which people abstain from alcohol
to raise money for charity, aim to change participants’ relationship with alcohol. Identifying the structural
and practical mechanisms of TSIs that facilitate the desired changes is an important element in understanding
their popularity and purported effectiveness as public health campaigns. Drawing upon in-depth interviews
with 15 Australian FebFast participants, this article argues that TSI participants, often guided by campaign
organizers, loosely adopt the self-tracking and self-experimentation practices of the Quantified Self (QS)
movement, which open up aspects of oneself and of alcohol that are normally hidden in order to facilitate
self-improvement via discovery. Drew Leder’s corporeal phenomenology of absence and presence
underpins the analysis of howTSI participants contrast deliberate periods of sobriety and inattentive normal
drinking to convert abstract knowledge about alcohol and its effects into personally salient information
based on lived experience. In doing so, participants shift the valence of their ambivalence about drinking even
at moderate levels and convert it from the less behaviorally impactful potential ambivalence to its more
influential felt form. Through such experiments, TSI participants problematize their drinking; make real the
physical, psychological, and social impacts of alcohol; and even redefine what they know it to be.
Robert, JL 2015, 'La Bougeotte et l’errance: French Canadian Travels and Returns', Special Issue of Australian Journal of French Studies, Australian Society for French Studies, Newcastle, NSW.
Robert, JL 2017, 'Throwing Away the Key: Novelistic Commentary on the AIDS Roman à clef', Australian Society for French Studies, Canberra.
Robert, JL 2016, 'A Vacation in a Bottle: Appeals to Travel in French Alcohol Advertising', Australian Society for French Studies, Adelaide.
Robert, JL 2016, 'Binge Sobriety in Cross-Cultural and Historical Perspective', Alcohol Flows Across Cultures, Oxford, UK.
Robert, JL 2015, 'Student Perceptions of Host Culture and Willingness to Communicate in the Context of Study Abroad', The Culture of Study Abroad for Second Languages, Halifax, NS Canada.
Sheldon, ME & Robert, J 2015, 'Student perceptions of host culture and willingness to communicate in the context of study abroad', LCNAU, National Colloquium, (25-27 November, 2015, Macquarie University, Sydney).
Robert, JL 2014, 'Alcohol and Autofiction: Truth, Veracity and the Challenge of Narrating Drunkenness', Australian Society for French Studies, Melbourne.
Robert, JL 2014, 'Responsible Drinking Initiatives: There’s No Problem a Booze-Free Month Can’t Solve', Crossroads in Cultural Studies, Tampere, Finland.
Robert, JL 2013, 'Using Language Classes to Prepare for Study Abroad: Confronting the Challenge of Ethno-Culture', Practices and Policies: Current Research in Languages and Cultures Education, Languages and Cultures Network for Australian Universities Colloquium, LCNAU, Canberra, Australia, pp. 253-263.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Robert, JL 2013, 'Cross-Border Medicine: Challenging Canadian Identity', Medical Tourism Roundtable, Sydney.
This talk centres on the notion of medical tourism and how it intersects with notions of nationalism and patriotism in the context of Canada (in relation to the US). The argument contrasts Canadian pride in their universal health care system with the popular idea that those who go south of the border for health care are betraying a national value.
Robert, JL 2013, 'Outbound: Integrating Practical Knowledge for Study Abroad into the French Language Curriculum', Biennial Colloquium--Languages and Cultures Network for Australian Universities, Canberra.
Robert, JL 2012, 'Movember and Julyna: The Body as Billboard in Public Health Campaigns', Cultural Studies Association of Australasia, Annual Conference, Cultural Studies Association of Australasia, Annual Conference, CSAA, Sydney.
Robert, JL 2012, 'You Eat What You Are: Cannibalistic Food Ethics in Ying Chen's Le Mangeur', Edible Alterity: Perspectives From La Francophonie, Edible Alterity: Perspectives from la Francophonie, University of Technology, Sydney, Sydney.
Robert, JL 2011, 'Selling the Cure: Fostering Hypochondria in Parti pris', Kentucky Foreign Language Conference, Lexington, Kentucky.
Robert, JL 2010, 'Fractured Bodies: Flawed Tropes of Quebecois Nationhood', Australasian Association for Literature, Australasian Association for Literature: Literature and Science, Australasian Association for Literature, University of New South Wales, Sydney.
This paper examines medicalized and bodily tropes of nationhood in QuÃ©becâs literary and journalistic discourse. Drawing on medical theory and critical discussions around nationhood, this paper examines medical metaphors in essays published in CitÃ© Libre and allegories of disease Gabrielle Royâs novels to reveal inconsistencies within thinking about QuÃ©bec as a nation. I propose looking at the tropes of disease and debility through the lens of systemic versus localized ailments attributed to the nation. While these texts characterize QuÃ©bec as suffering from systemic ailments, both authors seem to ignore QuÃ©becâs relation to the rest of Canada, for the effect of the systemic ailment on but a part of the national body is altogether absent. The usual correspondence of the rhetorical body and the nation, as evinced by the body politic, is thus troubled by QuÃ©becâs status as a nation within a nation. While acknowledging the potential for the disparities between the medical and the national aspects as an oversight, I suggest that the disjunction opens a space for rethinking the concept of the nation within the nation as a dis-ease producing facet of the almost always singularly conceived body politic.
Robert, JL 2011, 'France and the Loi Evin: Alcohol and Advertising', Law and Culture Symposium, Sydney.
Robert, JL 2010, 'Open Secrets, Closed Processes: Alcohol and Creativity in Mad Men', On Mad Men, University of Sydney.
This paper examines Mad Menâs treatment of creativity and the creative process through its use of the myth of the drunken artist. Working from the premise that alcohol is often seen as a potion that inspires artists to express themselves, I focus on the striking silencesâthe ellipsesâand the subsequent and partial acts of disclosureâthe analepsesâin the fourth seasonâs narrative about the creation of the award-winning Glo-Coat floor wax commercial to re-evaluate Mad Menâs seemingly obvious propagation of the stereotype of drunken creativity. I contend that the showâs play on the dual nature of alcohol as a cause for expression (inspiration) and a reason to seek silence (shame) unsettles the link between alcohol and the creative process. In questioning one of the traditional theories of creativity, the show highlights the larger cultural debates about what constitutes creativity that were taking shape in the 1960s.
Robert, JL 2010, 'Rural Seduction in La grande sÃ©duction and Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis: 40 Miles Past Nowhere From Sex and the City', Kentucky Foreign Language Conference, Lexington, Kentucky, USA.
Jean-FranÃ§ois Pouliot's La grande sÃ©duction (QuÃ©bec 2003) and Dany Boon's Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis (France 2008) have renewed interest in the rural despite the unspoken assumption that "Culture" is an urban phenomenon. This curiosity in the countryside, however, did not come easily. Viewers, like the urbane protagonists of these films, had to be convinced, wooed, to the charms of country living. Both seductions are elaborate schemes--the former to trick a visiting doctor into staying, the latter to beguile a disgruntled newcomer into leaving--that confound modern assumptions about both the rural and seduction. Moreover, these films challenge each region's modern literary traditions with respect to the rural by both upholding and undermining stereotypes about rurality. It is this simultaneous nod to the changing world all the while preserving the representational tradition with respect to the rural that acts as a meta-narrative for rethinking of the QuÃ©bÃ©cois roman du terroir and the French pastoral as loci for both cunning and shame.
Research sometimes leads you down unexpected paths. Although not trained as a public health researcher, a passing interest in a curious cultural phenomenon led me to conduct a cross-disciplinary study on a public health topic from an educational point of view. Being new to the field had me approach the background research without preconceptions and with a willingness to go where the literature pointed in terms of methodology. When it pointed toward semi-structured interviews, I quickly confronted the practicalities of using a method with which I was not familiar. The recruitment of participants, sampling bias, the phrasing of my questions, and the basic logistics of conducting interviews while away from one’s home base all presented challenges that needed to be overcome through anticipation, adjustment, or acceptance and acknowledgment of less than ideal circumstances and outcomes. This case presents new researchers with a set of circumstances and responses that can be analyzed in terms of successful and less than optimal responses and affords them the opportunity to think through better approaches to the practicalities of research methodology. It also provides encouragement to take risks in terms of research and research design, albeit with the proviso that such risks are calculated and the decisions informed.
Robert, J 2015, 'SAGE Encyclopedia of Alcohol: Social, Cultural, and Historical Perspectives', Sage, London.