English language press in France in an Exhibition

Exhibition: Language Matters

Why this exhibition ?

Did you know that the French National Library holds almost 6,000 English-language periodicals (including your beloved FUSAC) that have been published in France since the Revolution? Such a large figure may come as a surprise, since these are but too  rarely dealt with in the history of the French press. The titles which are displayed in this exhibition come under the banner of a marginal category, that of the foreign, in this case, English language press. It is defined as periodicals or newspapers written in languages other than the national language(s) – whether de facto or de jure.

Exhibiting the wealth of the English language press in France

Digitalisation operations that were launched in the 2000s in many libraries throughout the world have brought to light this global foreign-language press heritage. Its wealth is beyond imagination. Foreign-language titles cover every single domain and encompass newspapers, artistic reviews, association bulletins, academic societies’ yearly publications, political organs, to list but a few. Their periodicity is just as varied, ranging from dailies – some with two editions – to almanachs, not to mention weeklies, monthlies, bi-monthlies or quarterlies. They often are born out of a group of immigrants, exiles or expats (sound familiar?). The rationale for a foreign-language publications may be multi-pronged : reaching a readership beyond national frontiers, conquering new markets, circumventing censorship and having a dissident discourse, etc. Although this is too often overlooked, such titles are part and parcel of the press of the countries in which they are published. Yet, at the same time, they recount the story of other countries that they support or attack, of other countries that they are devised to keep contact with and for which they may offer a platform outside of their national space.

Retracing Anglo-Americans’ economic and artistic ventures in France

The English language press is the largest foreign-language press in France. The selected titles here highlight the long-lasting bonds between France, the United Kingdom and the United States. From English Papers/ Papiers anglois to FUSAC, this exhibition invites you to discover the over- 300-year story of British and American presence in France, as recounted by these publications which go from early printed matter to the digital. These newspapers and periodicals attest to Anglo-Americans’ political, economic and artistic life in Paris and beyond the capital city. They also remind us of their key contribution to the war effort alongside the Allied forces during WWI and WWII. They also  serve to demonstrate that France is not monolingual. Rather, France is quite multilingual: English, just as the numerous other foreign languages spoken by people whom this country welcomed, is spoken in France and has contributed to shaping its national history. The foreign-language press has thus normally developed in France, under the aegis of immigrants and ethnic groups – a feature which France shares with Britain and the United States, where foreign-language newspapers and periodicals abound.

Of course, FUSAC is mentioned in the exhibition having served the English language community for 30 plus years.

Viewing the exhibition

It is free and open to all.
It can be viewed at the Bibliothèque des Grands Moulins which is the Diderot University library until 20 January 2018.
Opening hours of the library :
Mondays 11 am- 8 pm
Tuesdays-Fridays 9am-8pm
Saturdays : 11am-7pm
The library is located at 5 rue Thomas Mann – 75013 Paris.

Bénédicte Deschamps & Stéphanie Prévost, Paris Diderot University, LARCA research group
(CNRS research unit UMR 8225).