Scientific projects supported by Lethica 2021-2023

In the framework of the call for projects, launched in January 2021, the Lethica scientific committee has validated 7 scientific projects for the period 2021-2023, which will be co-financed by the Thematic Interdisciplinary Institute

Automn school 2021: Ethics and Literature (E. Zanin et JC. Weber)  September 30 - October 2, 2021

This high-level training, first event organized by Lethica, has gathered more than 75 participants : master and doctoral students and researchers who wished to deepen their knowledge of the relationship between ethics and literature. Two of Lethica's themes ("making a case" and "moral revolutions") have been addressed from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Does reading make us happy? How do stories help medical diagnosis and guide the construction of automatic vehicles? Why were women forbidden to read novels? The study of the relationship between ethics and literature will provide answers to these questions. The first session was devoted to the "case": international specialists have explained why the brief account of a particular situation (a case) is an essential tool for philosophy, sociology, psychology and medicine. A practical workshop have lead us to start and think by case. We have also considered the 'happiness' that can be derived from reading, based on the methods developed by welfare economics. A second session has been devoted to the evolution of the relationship between ethics and literature from antiquity to modern times.

Download the detailes program → here


More than 120 participants have attended the Inaugural Conference on Septembre 30, 2021.

Jean-Marie Apostolidès : living, writing, thinking, interpreting moral revolutions, from yesterday to tomorrow (A. Mangeon et A. Lomo)  International symposium: May 23,24 & 25, 2022

Born in 1943, Jean-Marie Apostolidès is a polymath who, trained in sociology and psychology, has taught these disciplines in France and Quebec before becoming professor of literature at two of the most prestigious American universities, Harvard and Stanford University. To revisit his work, S. Berrégard, G. Ducrey, N. Chavoz and A. Mangeon will organise a seminar in autumn 2021 for the students of the master's degree "Cultures littéraires européennes", financed by the latter. Following J.M. Apostolidès, the purpose will be to re-read the theatre of the 17th century, the works of Edmond Rostand and contemporary literature, from comic strips (Hergé, Luc Giard) to the latest avant-gardes of the 20th century in France (Guy Debord, Ivan Chtcheglov and the Situationist International). M. Apostolidès will then be the guest of the master's degree CLE, for a series of conferences open to the members of Lethica; his stay will allow the preparation of a tribute symposium on his work, with invited guests and a call for papers. This second event will take place on May 23-24-25, 2022. The entry point to approach his work in the framework of Lethica will be the theme of "moral revolutions", since Mr. Apostolidès has been interested in the major mutations of Western sensibility, explored over several generations (see in particular Heroism and Victimization, 2003). We will use mainly intercultural historical approaches, but also focus on creative research (literary works, graphic novels based on Luc Giard's drawings).

In the framework of this project Jean-Marie Apostolidès will give several lectures in Strasbourg (organised by the Master Degree CLE):
→ 22 November 2021: participation of J.-M. Apostolidès to the seminar of the Master CLE devoted to the situationists
→ Cycle of lectures (open to Master CLE, UR 1337, agrégation de lettres modernes and members of Lethica):
                  ° 22 November, 4-6pm: "Théâtre kaléidoscope".
                  °23 November, 6-8pm: "Cyrano de Bergerac".
                  °24 November, 3.30-5.30 pm: "Heroism and victimisation, twenty years later".
Download the summary of these lectures here

The last part of the project will be the organisation of the international symposium:
"Jean-Marie Apostolidès: Vivre, écrire, penser, interpréter les révolutions morales, d'hier à demain" organised by Lethica - 23,24 & 25 May 2022 - MISHA conference room - University of Strasbourg

Download the call for papers for the symposium : here
Deadline is postponed to December 15

Fiat pax – Desiring Peace in Medieval Literatures (P.Andersen, M. Ott et F.Moghaddassi)  International symposium: June 17 & 18, 2022

Organization and scientific committee: Peter Andersen, Fanny Moghaddassi, Muriel Ott (Strasburg)
External members of the scientific committee: Philippe Haugeard (Orléans), Klaus Ridder (Tübingen), Martine Yvernault (Limoges)
Funding: LETHICA, UR 1337, UR 2325, UR 3400
Place: MISHA, Campus of the University of Strasbourg
Languages: English, French, German

The European Middle Ages were marked by important crises, sometimes leading to war, but also by the emergence of voices that questioned war and highlighted the preeminent value of peace, especially within the Christian conceptual framework. The conference aims to highlight these voices without neglecting the heroic and bellicose dimension of the chivalrous ideal. The approach to these issues will therefore involve studying the tensions, negotiations and reflections that these voices generate between the desire for peace and the desire for war in medieval literature.

The Middle Ages are commonly defined and pictured as a long and dark period, permanently disturbed by war, violence, and uncontrolled brutality. This fantasized representation of the Middle Ages has largely been demystified by medieval scholars, who stressed between political powers and violence, studied the struggles between ecclesiastical injunctions and the objectives of the lay aristocracy, uncovered the mechanisms and rituals of peace settlement, and documented the slow evolution toward a society in which the states and their institutions control violence.

It is nonetheless true that, in medieval literature, a great number of narratives, especially in the epic genre, are concerned with war, celebrating war heroes and victorious struggles against the enemy of the Christian faith, or the hostilities between rival clans. To sing the deeds of the heroes then implies a glorification of war, or even of the joy of war, according to proven dialectics.

The present conference, on the contrary, offers to study peace and the ways of peace within literary works about war. What could be called ‘pacifism’ is indeed relatively seldom discussed as the studies which take into consideration the voices of peace, or are dedicated to the resolution of conflicts in literary texts remain relatively rare. The literary texts concerned with peace tend to represent it less as a state (which is besides often disrupted at the beginning of the story), than as a goal to be reached through a series of actions (embassies, negotiations, possibly betrayals), speeches, gestures, rituals, but also as a goal that can be contested, turned down, or powerfully resisted. Peace thus offers an important narrative potential, which, in some texts, competes with the glorification of war. It is this narrative potential and the strategies – including argumentative ones – of the supporters of peace that this conference proposes to focus on. In literature as in reality, in fact, military confrontations are always preceded by deliberations where the different options are debated.

Keynote speakers

Brigitte Burrichter, professor (University of Würzburg): “Friedensaspekte in der Historia Regum Britanniae und im Roman de Brut
Patrick del Duca, professor (University of Clermont-Auvergne): “Paix et ruptures de paix dans le Willehalm de Wolfram von Eschenbach”
Ármann Jakobsson, professor (University of Reykjavik): “Suing for Peace: The historiographer Sturla Þórðarson and his contemporary sagas as ideological documents”

Autumn School 2022 : Ethical and aesthetic challenges of Artificial Intelligence (N.Chavoz)  September 28-30, 2022

The next ITI Lethica Autumn School will be held from 28 to 30 September 2022, at the University of Strasbourg, and will focus on the ethical and aesthetic challenges of Artificial Intelligence. This topic was chosen for its contemporary relevance, but also for its interdisciplinarity and its proximity to the four central themes of Lethica:

Moral revolutions: will we accept the presence of artificial intelligences in our lives? What moral, legal and philosophical status will we give them if they do?
Triage: since artificial intelligence may be called upon to make choices, how can we anticipate these possible arbitrations? (as in the case of automatic cars, for example).
Transparency and secrecy: Can the management of our personal data be entrusted to an artificial intelligence? Should we be afraid of Big Data?
- Case Making: Can an artificial intelligence "make a case"? Can it be responsible for looking after the weakest (the elderly; children)? Can it itself become a "case", i.e. develop a form of singularity?

To discuss these questions, Lethica has chosen to invite specialists from various fields (literature, ethics, the arts, but also computer science and philosophy): some of the invited speakers are versatile researchers, situated at the crossroads of several disciplines; others are involved in research and creation (or research-creation) practices; still others are artists or writers with national and international recognition.

See more information → here

Tales on triage : work, enterprise, and ethical conflicts in 20th and 21st century literature and films (C. Grenouillet et A. Labadie)  Symposium: October 12-14, 2022

"Tales on triage : work, enterprise, and ethical conflicts in 20th and 21st century literature and films" is a project of symposium and film cycle which is part of the theme "triage" and with the historical approach of LETHICA. It will examine how the logics of sorting in the work process are represented, and therefore thought about, in the literature and cinema of the industrialized capitalist countries, in all its scope (large companies, hospitals and geriatrics, personal care, teaching, agriculture, crafts, culture, publishing, etc.). In particular, it will examine the textualization/staging of ethical conflicts to which workers from many different professions are subjected.

Download more information on the Symposium + more details on the project here

This symposium is co-funded by Lethica, Configurations Littéraires (UR1337 - Strasbourg University) and THALIM (Théorie et histoire des arts et des littératures de la modernité - UMR 7172 - Sorbonne University/CNRS)

Theatre and ethics in Europe under the Ancien Régime (S. Berregard et F. D'Antonio)  Symposium : February 1-3, 2023

Based on the concept of the "tribune", theorised in particular by Chr. Biet, the aim of this symposium is to examine not only the nature but also the form of the reflections on ethical issues carried by the European theatre of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. If it is necessary to recontextualise the discourses or postures that the corpus illustrates in this field, it appears that universal issues related to the exercise of power are also developed, such as the relationship between private and public interests or the issue of state secrecy, which is a favourite of historical tragedy. Seen from this angle, dramatic works are like so many particular cases offered to the judgement of an audience that emanates from the whole of society.

Presentation :
According to the definition provided by Furetière's Dictionnaire universel (1690), directly from its Greek etymon, ethics is the "name sometimes given to Morality, or to the science of Manners". The word is therefore not only used to designate rules or prescriptions defined by treatises, such as Nicolas Faret's L'Honnête Homme ou l'Art de plaire à la cour (1630), whether or not based on pre-existing practices; it also corresponds to tools and methods aimed at observing and describing individual or collective ways of being. From then on, the enterprise no longer consisted in denouncing or exalting, by virtue of previously established norms, such and such a behaviour, but in giving an account of it, if possible without any judgment.
The theatre has appeared to us as a privileged place for exposing, expressing or manifesting postures or ideas, most often contradictory, on ethical questions - understood in the broad sense - as crucial as that of the reason of State or the relationship between private and public interests within the political sphere.

Download the full presentation and the call for papers here


Ethics of ordinary madness: medicine, philosophy, literature (B. Marquer et E. Marquer)  Symposium March 9-11, 2023

What is medicine of the mind? A spontaneous answer immediately summons a discipline in the sense of Foucault, since 'medicine today no longer has an external field' (Les Anormaux, 1999, p. 250). However, medicina mentis has long constituted a philosophical object, where the reference to pathology was not predominant, and where the hygiene of thought did not necessarily imply a medical perspective. We can see in this the evolution of the disciplines and their balance of power, but it is not this aspect that will hold us back: rather, what it implies about the conception of the mind, the means to be used to treat it, and the hierarchy of the faculties that this care orders.

This project proposes to give the apparent simplicity of an expression (medicine of the mind) its full complexity by reflecting on what is the object of the care, since defining the medicine of the mind presupposes defining the mind that must be cared for.

To do this, we propose to take up Foucaultian postulates on madness and on the norm, in order to discuss their definitions. The hypothesis that will serve as a guide is that madness is not necessarily that unthought or negative of the mind rejected from the classical age onwards, whose subversive force literature would have to express in the form of an experience of the limit (Bataille, Roussel). In contrast to this conception, which places madness in the field of the extra-ordinary, the abnormal, or even the anomalous, we propose to consider madness as an ordinary phenomenon, within the framework of an ethic of ordinary life, whose activity and usefulness can be measured by literature. Because it allows us, through the intermediary of everyday reading, to experience the power of fiction and to experience other lives, literature, whose very nature is "to release universal meanings without the aid of the concept" (Danièle Sallenave, Le Don des morts. Sur la littérature, 1991, p. 154), offers itself to us as a means of experiencing the power of fiction. 154), offers itself as another way of accessing a philosophy of the imagination, a philosophy where "madness" is no longer the reverse of reason, but where it can embody the "beautiful danger" that Foucault associated with his own practice of writing (Le beau danger. Interview with Claude Bonnefoy, 2011). A 'beautiful danger' which we postulate is the exercise of an ordinary madness where the experience of otherness, imaginary identification, illustrates the philosophical virtues of fiction.

Download the full presentation of the project here.


    → 1st seminar, Paris 1, 2 April 2022: "History of madness and medicina mentis: another classical age

The aim of this first seminar is to return to a non-psychiatric conception of the medicine of the mind, by focusing on the medicine of the mind as understood by modern philosophy. What place does moral philosophy reserve for the imagination when it comes to considering a hygiene of the mind?

    → 2nd seminar, Strasbourg, 18 November 2022: Madness and imagination (19th-20th centuries)

This second seminar will be devoted to the discourses on the imagination stemming from the "birth of psychiatry" and to the examination of the ethical postures resulting from the growing pathologisation of the imagination.

N.B.: This seminar will be integrated into the training received by the students of the master CLE (seminar "Literature and culture")

    → Symposium "Ethics of ordinary madness: medicine, philosophy, literature", Strasbourg, 9-11 March 2023

The symposium will propose a synthesis of the reflections from the two seminars, but will seek to focus the study on the ethical function of the imagination.

Ethics and literature today: the state of the question, the legacy of the past (E. Zanin et E. Perdichizzi)  March 23-25, 2023

The international symposium "Ethics and Literature today" aims to understand why morality is becoming increasingly important in the evaluation of literary works today. In order to answer this question, the aim is to take stock of the research on the relationship between literature and ethic,s and to reconstruct the essential stages of the joint history of the two disciplines, from the Renaissance to the 21st century. The analysis of specific cases (Oarystis 2017, Max Fox 2020) will allow us to closely identify the changes taking place. The dialogue between moral philosophers and literary theorists will allow us to deepen two of LETHICA's themes ("making a case", "moral revolutions"), to contribute to the training of students and to explore how to better define the truth content of literature, its forms, and its relevance in the reading process.