ISFAR newsletter 010 December 2022

Message from the president

We begin this newsletter with the sad news that co-founder and former President of ISFAR, Emeritus Professor Colin Nettelbeck passed away on 21 October 2022. Most of you will know this already, either through ISFAR or the numerous other tributes which have flowed since his passing. Many of you also attended Colin’s funeral on 4 November at the Sacred Heart Church in St. Kilda, where Colin and his wife Carol were very active members. The extent of Colin’s legacy to French Studies in Australia is evident, both from the number of people who attended his funeral (some coming from interstate and overseas), and from the many obituaries and notices from the various associations Colin was involved in and was a life member of, for example:
Alliance Française de Melbourne
Australian Society for French Studies
Languages and Cultures Network for Australian Universities
Bleu Blanc Rouge (Newsletter of the Honorary French Consulate in Melbourne)

Some ISFAR readers may not have known of these other associations which Colin was involved in over the years, some of which, like ISFAR, he also founded. His legacy will live on in these associations and the important work they do, as an ongoing testament to Colin’s longstanding and invaluable contributions to French Studies (and indeed to Language studies overall) in Australia. By way of recognition, several prizes and scholarships have been set up in his name in recent years:
The ISFAR Colin Nettelbeck Scholarship for postgraduate conference attendance
The inaugural LCNAU Colin Nettelbeck Lecture, “Languages and Cultures in Australian Universities Now: Plotting a Return to Firmer Ground”, delivered on 29 November 2022 by Professor Emerita Jean Fornasiero at the LCNAU 2022 colloquium
The ASFS Colin Nettelbeck Prize for postgraduate research and travel
The Alliance Française de Melbourne ‘Prix Professor Colin Nettelbeck’ for the Berthe Mouchette poetry competition

The first item in this newsletter is a short obituary to Colin which includes a link to a more detailed tribute, published in the latest issue of the French Australian Review.
With all best wishes for a very happy festive season and restful end of year break, wherever and however you will be spending it. We look forward to reconnecting with you in 2023.
Kerry Mullan, President

Vale Colin Nettelbeck

The ISFAR community is mourning the loss of Emeritus Professor Colin Nettelbeck. With colleagues Wallace Kirsop and Dennis Davison, Colin co-founded ISFAR and its journal Explorations (now The French Australian Review). He served in various roles (including president) in ISFAR from 1985 to 2000 and returned as president from 2011 to 2018. During the latter period, his policies emphasised the research profile of the Institute, including upgrading the journal, and creating a dedicated Research Committee and the French Australian Dictionary of Biography, to which he contributed several entries. Colin published widely on modern and contemporary French literature, cinema, and cultural history, contributed regularly to Explorations and The French Australian Review, and, at the time of his passing, was writing the story of the Crivelli family in Australia. Colin’s many other roles and achievements are listed in his life membership profile and in a tribute written by Colin’s longstanding friend and colleague, Emeritus Professor Ivan Barko, in the most recent issue of The French Australian Review 72, which was dedicated to Colin. A Colin Nettelbeck Scholarship was set up in 2021 to recognise the central role Colin played in founding the Institute and his longstanding commitment and invaluable contribution to all its public and research activities. Colin passed away on 21 October 2022 after a long illness.


The French Australian Review, Number 73

The next issue of The French Australian Review should land in your inbox or letterbox by the end of February. Our authors, like so many academics, have been under a great deal of pressure this year and so a couple of the articles are a bit late. But, don’t despair, there will be lots in it of interest when it does arrive—an article by French academic David Camroux from Sciences-Po in Paris about AUKUS and its aftermath; an article about the collaboration between Marcus Clarke and the French pianist and composer Henri Kowalski in the 1880s; an interview with the publisher of Éditions Au Vent des Îles, in Papeete; a personal account of a ‘literary encounter’ in the Périgord; a fascinating piece about the unsung women of early archaeology of the Pacific Islands, and more. The editors will be working hard over January to get it to you as soon as possible.

So don’t miss out. If you are not yet a member of ISFAR, this could well be the time to join. Members receive the journal twice a year free of charge.  Join ISFAR here.


The Annual Ivan Barko Prize

Each year the ISFAR Committee awards a prize to the author of best refereed article published during the preceding year. This prize is named after Professor Ivan Barko to honour his long and distinguished service to ISFAR, particularly as editor of Explorations and its successor The French Australian Review. Professor Barko was the McCaughey Professor of French at The University of Sydney from 1975 to 1991 and is today Professor Emeritus at that university. He was for many years Chair of the Editorial Advisory Committee of The French Australian Review and remains to this day Editorial Consultant. His advice is often sought and highly valued.

The prize in his honour is awarded this year to Dr Patricia Clarke OAM for ‘Australian Connections with the Franco-Prussian War 1870 and the Commune of Paris 1871’ published in The French Australian Review, number 71, (Summer 2021–2022). Patricia Clarke is a writer, historian, editor and former journalist, an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and Fellow of the Australian Federation of Historical Societies. She has written extensively on women in Australian history and on media history. Several of her publications are biographies of women writers.

Her article recounts how two women journalists with long associations with the Australian press were on the spot in Paris to report on two events of great historical importance—the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the French Commune of 1871. Anna Blackwell’s dispatch as she fled Paris in 1870 was the most dramatic of the many she sent over the thirty years she represented the Sydney Morning Herald in France. Frances Cashel Hoey was appointed London correspondent for The Australasian, after the successful republication of her first-hand account of the Paris Commune first published in the Spectator under the heading ‘A Catholic Lady in “Red” Paris”. Clarke uses the stories of these two women to explore the position of women journalists at the time, to provide insights into the lives of these two women, and also into the interest that the Australian public had in events in France and more broadly in Europe. A number of quotations from their articles give a taste of the liveliness and immediacy of their descriptions and the liveliness of their writing.

Download ‘Australian Connections with the Franco-Prussian War 1870 and the Commune of Paris 1871’.
See more information about Patricia Clarke.


Call for Papers

Thu 13 – Fri 14 April 2023

The 2023 ISFAR Symposium will be held on Thursday 13 and Friday 14 April, with a possible extra day on Saturday. While the majority of the sessions will be online, we are keeping open the possibility of a hybrid keynote session to be held in Melbourne in conjunction with a conference dinner. Certain sessions will be timetabled to ensure that colleagues overseas can participate.

The theme of the Symposium, ‘New Perspectives in French-Australian Studies’, is intended to capture new fields of research, innovative theoretical and methodological approaches and the rapidly changing geopolitical landscape, but papers on all aspects of French-Australian relations are welcome. We encourage contributions from the wide range of disciplines within which these relations can be addressed. Subject to the usual review process, articles arising from the Symposium may be published in the French Australian Review.

Please send a 150-200 word abstract and a brief cv (>100 words) to the co-chairs of the ISFAR Research Committee by 15 January 2023.
Please email .

ISFAR members are encouraged to bring the CfP to the attention of colleagues and of Honours and Postgraduate students whose paper proposals might be eligible for the new Colin Nettelbeck scholarship.

The inaugural Colin Nettelbeck Award ($400), to finance travel for research or conference attendance, will be awarded to an Honours or Postgraduate student whose paper is accepted for the Symposium. Candidates for the award should send, together with their abstract and cv, a brief explanation of the purpose to which the funds will be put and details of any institutional support they may receive for that project. Criteria for the award include the quality of the abstract, the relevance of the paper to the themes of the Symposium and the degree of financial support already available to the candidate. The Research Committee’s decision, including the decision whether to make an award, will be final. The award will be announced by mid-March 2023.


ISFAR seminar series: ‘Is a Reset in French-Australian Relations Possible?’

In light of the rapidly evolving situation following the elections in France and Australia in the first half of 2022, ISFAR is organising a series of seminars under the overall title ‘After the Elections, is a Reset in French-Australian Relations Possible?’  The series opened on 7 July with a zoom seminar given by Dr David Camroux from Sciences-Po entitled ‘AUKUS and its Aftermath’. Dr Camroux’ comprehensive overview of the issues at stake has been transcribed, edited and the Q and A session rationalised, and will be printed in the next issue of FAR.

The second seminar in the series, ‘The EU “Steps Up” in the Indo-Pacific’, was held on 29 September. The speaker on broader EU policy, in the formulation of which France has played a leading role, was Professor Bruce Wilson, Director of the European Union Centre at RMIT. This online presentation attracted an enthusiastic and engaged audience of 23, similar to that for the seminar in July.

We will continue this conversation at our Symposium in April.


Bastille Day French Festival 2022 ISFAR quiz answers

For those of you who tried your hand at the BDFF ISFAR 2022 quiz in our last newsletter, the answers are highlighted below.

1. Who was the author of the novel published in French as Splendeurs et fureurs?
Christina Stead
Marie Lion
Clive Voss

2. Approximately what percentage of wine in France is sold in the ‘bag-in-a-box’, an Australian invention?

3. The fictional town of ‘Paris’ featured in a 1974 Australian film. In which state is located the town where ‘Paris’ was filmed?
New South Wales

4. Who wrote the novel on which the film that opened the 2022 French Film Festival was based?

5. Who spent 17 years as ‘Amglo’?
Narcisse Pelletier
Fletcher Christian
Eliza Fraser

6. What was the sport played by the first French sports team in history to tour Australasia?
rugby league

7. Who was the first French explorer to set foot in Australia?
Marc-Joseph Marion Dufresne
Nicolas Baudin
Dumont D’Urville

8. Which French cultural practitioner, influential in Australia, summed up their approach to their art as ‘tout bouge’?
Marcel Marceau
Jacques Lecoq
Maurice Béjart

9. Who was the founding president of the Sydney French Club?
Louis Laure
Georges Playoust
William Holman

10. Whose work was translated into French as C’est une chose sérieuse que d’être parmi les hommes?
Germaine Greer
Shirley Hazzard
Les Murray


ISFAR and Alliance Française event, Sydney, Thu 1 Dec 2022

On Thursday 1 December ISFAR joined with the Alliance Française in Sydney to host Alexis Bergantz in conversation with Dr Briony Neilson about his prize-winning book French Connection: Australia’s Cosmopolitan Ambitions. The years 2017 to 2019, before Covid struck, saw a very successful series of three in-person events co-hosted by the AFS and ISFAR, and we are delighted that this collaboration has restarted. An audience of over thirty took an enthusiastic part in the questions and discussion, and stayed long after the end of the talk to catch up with friends and former colleagues, to purchase the book, and to review past copies of the French Australian Review that had been laid out for inspection. The president of the Alliance, Lyn Tuit, who attended, declared herself very pleased with the event and we are planning further collaboration around April next year, after the French Film Festival which takes much of the Alliance’s time and energy in February and March.

Alexis Bergantz, Briony Neilson and Liz Rechniewski on stage at the event. Credit: Cécile Reyes, Alliance Française

Alexis signing copies of his book at the event. Credit: Cécile Reyes, Alliance Française


Profile: Véronique Duché FAHA

R. Chisholm Professor of French, The University of Melbourne; Vice President of ISFAR

Born and educated in France, I moved to Melbourne in 2011 when I was offered a position in the School of Languages and Linguistics. With a Doctorate in Linguistics, a Doctorate in French Renaissance Literature and Language, and a Habilitation à Diriger les Recherches, I was not sure what research I would be able to do in Australia. Nor was I sure how teaching French as an additional language outside of France would be. At my French university, I had the chair in French Renaissance literature and taught mostly third year and postgraduate students. My teaching expertise lay mostly in close reading of 16th century texts and in dissecting and analysing the French language, from Old French to modern French. My research dealt also with Renaissance literature, in particular chivalric novels published in the 16th century, and sentimental novels translated from Spanish.

However, this leap in the air, coming to the University of Melbourne, was not as frightening as I first thought it would be. I found here great students, all passionate about the French language and culture. And I discovered in the antipodes fantastic colleagues and resources relating to my field of expertise. I had the opportunity to meet Professor Eliot Forsythe, a world-renowned authority on French early modern theatre, (see my eulogy in ISFAR 2016) and Professor Wallace Kirsop, an eminent expert in French Studies, bibliography and book trade history. Wallace introduced me to the French treasures held in Australian libraries and collections, in particular those of the State Library of Victoria, and of the Baillieu Library in my own university. A new field of research just opened to me—and it was a privilege for instance to study one of the most beautiful books of the Renaissance, Francesco Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Venice, Aldus Manutius, 1499), and its translation into French, the Songe de Poliphile (Paris, Jacques Kerver, 1546). The translation was a project supported by the diplomat, scholar, and Paracelsian alchemist Jacques Gohory. The Baillieu’s copy is unique, being Jacques Gohory’s own copy of the 1546 edition and a draft of his following editions.

There are in Australia a wealth of resources relating to medieval and early modern French culture, and I am delighted for example to research the Cronica Cronicarum, a 11-metre-long scroll published in 1521 and recording the history of the world. I regret though that the Australian Research Council doesn’t show any interest in funding research in this field…

I also became quickly interested in French-Australian relations, under the guidance of Professor Colin Nettelbeck, and I am very proud to be the current Vice President of ISFAR. I first focused on Australian soldiers during the First World War. Studying this topic was especially moving —and sometimes difficult—because I was not used to researching contemporary facts and stories, having specialised in material several centuries old. I am still touched by the fact that so many young Australians chose to leave their country and fight for France, at the risk of losing their life. I tried to deflect this emotion by studying humour in the trenches, and diggers excelled in this field! It was also an honour for me to supervise the doctoral research of our current Honorary Secretary, Dr Pauline Georgelin, who investigated French-Australian identities during WW1.

In sum, I have found here in Australia both fulfilling teaching opportunities and exciting research prospects, all under the banner of French-Australian relations!

Véronique Duché


Links to current and upcoming events

The So Frenchy so Chic festival returns to Werribee Park on Sunday 15 January 2023. The link below provides further information about this exciting event.

Visit The Lume, Melbourne to experience the immersive Monet & Friends, an epic adventure into French impressionism. Open from 26 October 2022 to 30 June 2023.


Forthcoming publication

Gilles Prilaux, Michael Fiechtner and Donna Fiechtner, Shadows Beneath the Somme: Grafitti from the Great War, Moss Vale, NSW, Big Sky Publishing, March 2023, 224 pp., ISBN 978-1-92289-646-9 (hardback).

During the winter of 2014, a team of archaeologists brought to light the most important concentration of soldier graffiti  dating from the Great War. To their surprise, located throughout the Naours caves in Northern France, rediscovered by the local Abbot in 1877, they discovered inscriptions written by soldiers of many nations inscribed during the First World War. Intensive research of these inscriptions has led to an amazing inventory of nearly 3000 names, most of them of Australian soldiers. Ongoing research has unearthed the  individual stories of these soldiers at war. We now know their names and can discover their stories. Some received medals, some returned home after the war and many paid the ultimate sacrifice. Their inscriptions are their lasting legacy!  Shadows Beneath the Somme unearths individual and unique stories of forty Australian men who went to war and wrote their names on cave walls under the village of Naours.

ISFAR members will recall the visit of Gilles Prilaux to Canberra and Melbourne in 2019 when he introduced us to the caves of Naours and their Australian connection. We look forward to the release of his book in March 2023. In the meantime, read about this amazing discovery in the special issue of The French Australian Review, ‘Beyond Villers Bretonneux: Three Conference Papers’.

Giles Prilaux, ‘Underground Traces of the Great War at Naours: Some Australian Soldiers and Their Stories, The French Australian Review 69 (Australian Summer 2021).

Grottes de Nahour