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Schwartzwald's research focusses on a number of interrelated topics : the interface between discourses of national modernity on the one hand and literary and cultural modernites on the other; nationalisms and sexualities, and especially the ways in which homosexuality figures in national, colonial, and post-colonial discourses; interfaces between political notions of citizenship privileged by the nation state and the assertion of other identitarian positions on a transnational scale; literary discourse and the dissemination of notions of « civility » and « density » in heterogenous, urban spaces. His primary sites of investigation have been Quebec, Canada, la francophonie, France between the two world wars and post-1968, and the « small nations » of western and central Europe.
Before joining the department in January 2005, Robert Schwartzwald was a Professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he chaired the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. He was also an allied faculty member of the Departments of Comparative Literature and Judaic and Near Eastern Studies. Professor Schwartzwald was the Founding Director of the Center for Crossroads in the Study of the Americas (CISA) of the Five College consortium (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst) in western Massachusetts. With graduate degrees in Comparative Literature (M .A., U of Toronto) and Littérature québécoise (PhD, U. Laval), his comparatist background and record of interdisciplinary research and teaching, he is an excellent fit for the new programs of Études anglaises at the Université de Montréal and especially for building bridges between it and other departments.
Among Professor Schwartzwald's numerous publications are two pioneering essays for gay studies in Quebec : « Fear of Federasty : Quebec's Inverted Fictions » (in Comparative American Identities , Hortense Spillers, ed., 1991), developed from a lecture presented at the English Institute at Harvard University in 1990, and « ‘Symbolic Homosexuality', ‘False Feminine', and the Problematics of Identity in Quebec » ( in Fear of Queer Planet : Queer Politics and Social Theory , Michael Warner, ed., 1993), first published in French in Fictions de l'identitaire au Québec . Schwartzwald also edited a critically acclaimed special Canada issue of The Massachusetts Review in 1990 and published an annotated translation of The Brown Plague (1994), French writer Daniel Guérin's account of his travels through late Weimar and early Nazi Germany in 1932 and 1933. His introductory essay places Guérin's observations in the context of those by Anglo-American writers, including Isherwood, Spender, Auden, and Wescott, from the same period. He has written a series of essays on the Dominican Father Marie-Alain Couturier, who spent the Second World War years in New York City and Montreal, where he promoted the work of young, nonfigurative artists and helped shift public opinion toward support for la France-libre . With grants from the Menil Foundation, Schwartzwald has written about Couturier's leading role in renewing sacred art in the 20th century and his collaborations with Matisse, Le Corbusier, and Léger, among others. Recently, Schwartzwald has been writing on relations between (anti) globalization discourse, postcolonialism, and the cultures of « small nations. »
In Massachusetts, Schwartzwald developed and taught graduate seminars on Quebec literature, « Identity and Heterogeneity in the Contemporary French and Francophone Text, » « The Colonial Other in French Literature, » « Culture and Crisis in France, » and « Intellectuals and Their Institutions. » At the undergraduate level, his courses included Quebec culture, French Film, and France since 1945. For CISA, he helped develop the co-taught, interdisciplinary courses « Global Markets, Global Culture? » and « Rethinking the Americas. » At the Université de Montréal, he has taught graduate seminars on contemporary gay and lesbian literature, the construction of cultural space (the literature of cities), and Borderlands of the Americas, which examines how literary texts complicate the naturalized borders of geo-political discourse. At the undrgraduate level, courses include Écrivains anglophones du Québec, English Studies in a Comparative Context, and Literature and Globalization.
Schwartzwald is a member of the Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur la littérature et culture québécoises (CRILCQ), where he is a researcher in the group project « Penser l’histoire de la vie culturelle au Québec. » Here, he focuses on how literature and film serve as sites, in the middle decades of the 20th century, for the « induction » of young intellectuals into urban life. His recent work explores intercultural relations in Montreal at this time, particularly between the city’s French, English, and Jewish communities, and examines journalism in particular as a site of productive heterogeneity. In November 2007, he co-organized a two-day conference, « Densités, Intensités. Tensions : L’urbanité montréalaise en question’ » that brought young Montreal architects and designers into dialogue with academics in literature, communication, art history, urbanism, and sociology.
Schwartzwald served as Editor of Quebec Studies , the scholarly journal of the American Council of Quebec Studies, from 1995-2000, and Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Canadian Studies / Revue internationale d'études canadiennes from 2000-2005. He has been invited to lecture in numerous countries, including a cursillo on « Constructions of Modernity in Quebec » under the auspices of the Margaret Atwood – Gabrielle Roy chair in Canadian Studies at the National Autonomous University in Mexico City. In May 2008, he was awarded the Governor General’s International Award for Canadian Studies in recognition of his scholarly contributions to the field.
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Département d'études anglaises - FAS / UdeM