About our research center
Home > LAMo > About the LAMO

About the LAMO

Friday 17 February 2017

A research center (laboratoire) in literature attached to the UFR Lettres et Langages (Faculty of Literature and Languages) of Nantes University, LAMO has the official status of Équipe d’Accueil (EA 4276) or Host Team, recognised by the Haut Conseil d’Évaluation de la Recherche et de l’Enseignement Supérieur (High Council for the Assessment of Research and Higher Education, HCERES).

LAMO is currently composed of 40 permanent members coming from several departments of Nantes University: Lettres Classiques (Classics), Lettres modernes (French and Comparative Literature), études italiennes (Italian Studies), and études anglaises (English Studies).


Founded in 1985 by Gwenhaël Ponnau, the Équipe d’Accueil (Host Team) 1164, then entitled TLI for “Textes, Langages, Imaginaires” (Texts, Languages, Imaginations) dedicated its research to the “Margins of Literature”.

In 2008, the research center, under the direction of Philippe Forest, welcomed the members of the former EA 3258 (Modernité de l’Antique, i.e, Modernity of Antiquity) and took on a new name, TLI-MMA (“ Textes, Langages, Imaginaires - Marges Modernités Antiquités”, or Texts, Languages, Imaginations – Margins, Modernity, Antiquity), hence becoming EA 4276. It was still structured around teams distributed according to the period or discipline the members specialized in.

The years 2012 saw a reorganisation of the Literature research center of the University of Nantes, directed by Elisabeth Gaucher-Rémond (2012-2014), then by Eugenio Amato (2014-2019), with the collaboration of Anne Rolet (Assistant Director, 2012-2019): the EA adopted a single research structure. Its new name (L’AMo, “L’Antique, le Moderne. Postérités de l’Antique, Généalogies du Moderne”, i.e. The Ancient, the Modern, Posterity of the Ancient, Genealogies of the Modern) put an end to the juxtaposition of the two previous poles and replaced it with a federative reflection on the Ancient and the Modern, analysed from the perspective of the relationships that oppose or unite them (continuities and splits, transformations and transfers).

From 2012 to 2021, this structure revolved around three cross-disciplinary axes gathering together teachers, researchers and PhD students, independently from their discipline or century of expertise.

Axis 1: REPRESENTATION, IDENTITY, HISTORY, sup. Régis Tettamanzi (sub-axis “The Other and the Subject in History”) and Françoise Rubellin (sub-axis “Theatre and Cutural History”).
Axis 2: TRANSMISSION OF TEXTS AND IDEAS, sup. Pierre Maréchaux (sub-axis “Philology, Aesthetics and Hermeneutics”) and Gerhardt Stenger (sub-axis “Literature, Ideas, Knowledge”).
Axis 3: MODERNITY, TRANSLATIONS AND THEORIES, sup. Philippe Forest (sub-axis “Theories and Counter-theories of the Modern”) and Christine Lombez (sub-axis “Translations, Rewritings and Receptions”).

Since 2019, the research center is headed by Christine Lombez (Director), with the collaboration of Nicolas Correard (Assistant Director).


Permanent members: 40

  • Teachers-researchers: 38
    • 12 university professors
    • 16 lecturers/associate professor including 3 HDR (Accredited Research Supervisors)
    • 1 PRAG and 1 PRCE (joint teaching staff)

PhD students: 31

Associate members: 28

  • Teachers-Researchers (currently working or emeritus) of Nantes University: 12
  • Teachers-Researchers from other French universities: 10
  • Teachers-Researchers from foreign universities: 6

Administration: 1 full-time administrative staff + 1 part-time research engineer

For the years 2021-2026, six new priority research topics have been defined, to which several members of the research center are actively contributing.

Our research center has developed tight bonds between research and teaching in the ALC (Arts, Literature and Civilization) Master’s degree curriculum proposed at Nantes University, and also through symposiums PhD students are invited to contribute to.

Research topic 1
Archeology and Posterity of the Self: Subject, Individual, Person and Character
(supervised by Élisabeth Gaucher-Rémond)

This topic is dedicated to the study of the construction and evolution of personal identity markers in literature and the arts, without excluding a wider cross-disciplinary approach that builds bridges with history, medicine, philosophy, law and digital sciences.

The analysis of the various forms of individual representation requires, in order to identify whom it is about, the use of several concepts, as defined by Jean-Claude Schmitt (“La culture de l’imago”, Annales ESC, 1996, 51, p.7): if the subject refers to the capacity for self-appraisal and involves reflexivity or introspection, it is linked to the notion of person, which is specific to a given culture, and to that of individual, which relates to the particular place, real or dreamt, of a man or woman in society. In addition to this, there is the character, which is the product of literary or artistic creation.

This field of investigation provides numerous perspectives for analysis, for instance:

  • Literary genres: the purpose is to study the modalities of literary subjectivity through diverse writing practices, theorised or not throughout the centuries: biography and autobiography, hagiography, literature of the intimate, diary, correspondence, personal lyricism, memoirs and historical novels, travel narratives, without omitting the cases of intertextuality and transtextuality (the migration of individual figures from one genre to another). Is that still literature? The notion of “Ego-Dokument” invented in the 1950s can enrich the debate.
  • Subject’s speech: the investigation focusses on the characters’ speech, the question of intradiegetic, heterodiegetic and homodiegetic narrators, or even the relevance of those distinctions according to the period studied. Works in the field of linguistics, for example onomastics, would have their place here.
  • Genesis of the author and artist: at the crossroads of the history of mindsets and the socio-professional structures that modify the conditions of creation, observing the emergence and evolution of the literary and artistic personality would be an opportunity to highlight cultural transfers, notably at European level.
  • Anthropology of the subject: literary works can bear witness of the way in which a specific era generated identification through the use of a scientific, philosophical, social, political, religious or educational discourse or via identity markers (clothes, eating habits, etc.)
  • Cross-media transfers: the fate of individual figures, subjected to new technologies and the expectations of successive audiences, is revealed through the various cross-media migrations (film adaptation, role-playing games, writing about oneself online, etc.). Taking a diachronic approach to the transcription of identity concerns in the various formats of current media, notably through the passage from physical space to digital space, can provide opportunities for creative writing.
  • Spatial dimension of the individual: The purpose is to assess the semiotic relationship between a particular body and the trace – verbal or non-verbal, such as tombs and graffiti – that it leaves in a geographic, scenic or architectural space.

Research topic 2
The Literary Construction of Norms and Hierarchies
(supervised by Nathalie Grande)

Literature, as a way of storing and transmitting social values, takes a significant part in the construction of mindsets. The ideological values that it transmits, through the shapes it takes and the ideas it disseminates, make it a privileged field of observation of the norms and hierarchies that structure societies, but also of the changes at work in them.

This thematic axis, which very generally questions the history of the literary construction of representations, in that they carry a weight of imagination and work towards the construction and deconstruction and all the reconfigurations of the ethical and aesthetic values that societies are built on, pays particular attention to the two following points, without excluding other fields of application:

  • Gender issues
    The construction of gender representations reinforces and sets in stone the norms and hierarchies that induce them. Reflecting on the political and social implications of gender hierarchies and norms opens multiple perspectives in the literary field. Gendered models carry moral values that have an impact on social life. Studying the issue of women’s involvement in the literary world invites researchers to bring to light overshadowed female writers and works that were too quickly neglected and forgotten but deserve a place in the history of literature. It also allows for the analysis a specifically French tradition of female writers that still exists today. Taking a gender-biased approach to literature, the people who make it, both male and female, the conditions in which it is produced and received and the ideological and social issues at stake in the literary field does not only give us a new understanding of some texts, but has the advantage of linking the history of literature, with its norms and hierarchies, to the contemporary debates that regularly make the news.
  • The making of literary history as a place of hierarchical constructs.
    The reflexive study of the history of literary history is far from complete. Reception studies make it possible to question and understand the ideological and social tensions that run through our disciplinary field. Reflecting on the historical construction of the canon hierarchies and norms, relying on the study of scientific and journalistic critical discourses as well as taking into account the modalities and realities of transmission, not only makes it possible to think out a possible (or impossible) canonization (Of what kind? What shapes would it take?), but also more specifically interrogates our own hierarchies by making us question in turn our practices as researchers and teachers.

Research topic 3
Heritage and Transmission
(supervised by Mathilde Labbé)

The “Heritage and Transmission” research topic brings together researchers who work on the creation of heritage literary corpora and the transmission of literary works. Literary heritage is understood here as the ensemble of works that are likely to be passed on to the next generations: it is constantly redefined and varies according to the authority or institution that delimitates it, and sometimes depending on the medium used for its preservation and/or its transmission. The “Heritage and Transmission” theme is meant to include projects that involve one or several of those notions, but also to support a critical approach of these operations and the way they are conceived, for instance by exploring different types of selection (tradition, classics, canon, etc.) and transmission, or by studying their history. Among other things, it can be grounds for reflection on the history of literature as well as on the concrete forms of adaptation, or the way in which transmission and mediation operations are articulated.

Three research goals can be identified, without excluding other approaches. Among other projects, researchers on this topic may:

  • Analyse the way in which attempts at defining literature and processes relating to its transmission are articulated (from adapting to publishing literary texts and teaching literature…);
  • Explore the role of the medium/format in literary creation and in the criticism and reception of literary works by mobilizing different perspectives (information and communication sciences, film studies, history of books…) in a cross-disciplinary spirit;
  • Investing the very diverse field of digital humanities to analyse literary works as well as their creation, their transmission and their reception, or to contribute to their preservation and distribution.

Research topic 4
The Arts in Concert: Literature and Intermedial Transfers (supervised by Dominique Peyrache-Leborgne)
(supervised by Dominique Peyrache-Leborgne)

The influence of literature is partly due to its ability to reflect on its relationship with other artistic disciplines, draw inspiration from them and appropriate them (the figures of the musician, the painter and the architect in artist fictions for example, or the ekphrasis technique, the painting effect and the explicit reference to Horace’s ut pictura poesis); and yet this influence also relies, in turn, on the capacity of literature to inspire the other fields of art and become a substrate for transfers or intermedia reconfigurations: thus, the concepts of intermedial and transmedial transfers make it possible to reflect on this dialogue between the arts, from the great Romantic and Post-Romantic utopia of the total work of art to the rewriting and film adaptation phenomena. Questions surrounding theatre staging, opera libretto, adaptation in the fields of audiovisual and fine arts (iconotexts, illustrations of literary works, graphic novels, literature and photography…) will be at the centre of these research studies. These questionings will follow up on the studies already undertaken by the researchers of LAMO and associates, of which echoes can be found notably in works published by Éditions Espace 34, Gallimard, Les Belles Lettres, and Champion, as well as in the “Interférences” collection of the Presses Universitaires de Rennes or the “Iconotextes” one of the Presses universitaires de Tours.

The concept of “arts in concert” must not, however, conceal the fact that “transmedia” transfers (transpositions, adaptations) do not imply that one form of art can be entirely merged into another. The study of reconfigurations also places emphasis on the singularities and specificities of each language and each medium. For example, what does a literary text say on a philosophical, stylistic or theoretical level that the change of medium will have missed or will fail to convey? What irreducible part of each medium remains after a transposition? How does a rewriting, whatever the chosen medium, constitute a new work in its own right, likely to either reduce the polysemy or ambiguities of a text or, on the contrary, to increase its aesthetic, emotional and sensory dimensions tenfold (cinema playing in this regard the role of a new form of total work of art)? Therefore, every intermedia reconfiguration implies the necessity to not only reflect on the axiology of the source text, but also to build bridges between the past and the present – a past that in reality is far from gone and allows us, if we can read it properly, to question our present and its unthought-of issues with more accuracy.

Research topic 5
Meaning, Knowledge and Interpretation
(supervised by Christine Lombez)

This topic is concerned with the relationships between literature and hermeneutics. Although methods for interpreting texts have often been borrowed by philologists to theologians and jurists, today, new approaches advocate for text interpretation as a new form of free creation that can potentially mean challenging auctoriality. It is also interesting to reflect on translation processes and the modalities of the construction of meaning since antiquity. This will imply wondering what function translators give to their work but also questioning the boundaries that are established in each era between translation, imitation, adaptation or even appropriation, and what is considered a “good” or “bad” translation.

Meaning and interpretation are also at the core of reading and book uses. The material presentation of books and, nowadays, their dematerialisation provide valuable information on the use that is made of them. This logically raises the question of reception: what did people read in each era and how did they (and do we) perceive the literature of past time periods? Hermeneutics also brings us back to the question of knowledge: even though ideally, a reader should share the writer’s knowledge, texts from ancient times or remote foreign lands bear witness of representations of the world that are not necessarily theirs. In order to understand them, the reader must thus reconstruct lost knowledge. From a more contemporary perspective, we can notice that literature does no longer shy away from vesting fiction with a scientific or scholarly ambition. For the past twenty years or so, sub-genres have been developing, testifying to the ever-going dynamics that attempt to give a more literary tone to the discourses related to knowledge.

Lastly, hermeneutics makes us look at the way we conceive criticism and literary theory: antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance era practiced commentary, which was not only a means of elucidation but also of judgement and even expression of personal aesthetic theories. In modern times, theory became a genre in itself. As a consequence, we shall reflect on the practices of literary criticism and the history of the very idea of literature: the way it is conceived is indeed indicative of its value and legitimacy in the organisation of discourse through the ages.

Research topic 6
The Republic of Letters in a Globalized World: Exchanges, Identities and Decentering
(supervised by Philippe Postel)

The notion of “Republic of Letters", familiar to experts of the Renaissance and early modern times (16th – 18th centuries), has recently been used by Pascale Casanova to characterize the dynamics of international exchanges in what we today call literature (19th-21st). How relevant is this notion to past and present literatures, within the framework of cultural globalization? We can wonder whether post-colonial theories, which favour the analysis of the centre/outskirts relationships, still correspond to the multipolar world we live in, where South-American magical realism can influence contemporary Chinese writers, just like cardinal works of the Christian Western world were inspired in past eras by Eastern sources, including the Divine Comedy, La Fontaine’s Fables or Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

The public debates around “globalization” and “deglobalization” invite us to operate a permanent heuristic shift, as some historians did (Patrick Boucheron, Timothy Brook, Peter Frankopan), and as some thinkers in the field of “world literature” (World Literature, David Damrosh, among others) propose.

Our purpose is to study the globalization processes at work in literature and culture within a given space and time frame, but also the local resistances to these processes (Homi Bhabha). Under what conditions did cosmopolitism become an ideal in ancient or modern times? Conversely, can the literary text, the ultimate “migrant” phenomenon (through time and space), really escape being assigned to one cultural identity?

The geopolitics or even diplomacy of literature thus relate to politics, to what gives a collective resonance to the otherwise eminently individual gesture that is literary writing, even in the less committed of productions: what is implied by the concurrent representations of Anglo-Spanish relationships in Cervantès’ La Española inglesa and Thomas Middleton’s A Game at Chess? How were the Humanists of the Renaissance able to appropriate the Jewish Kabbalah in a time of unbridled antisemitism? Lastly, this methodological shift calls into question the possibility to produce a globalized literary theory that would not rely on the study of documented exchanges but on the comparison of spatially or temporally distant corpuses. Is it possible to extract comparable elements from analogies between genres? For example, can the Japanese monogatari and the Chinese xiaoshuo be considered as a form of “novel”, given their historically synchronous but parallel development? Similarly, confronting corpuses from distinct eras can generate fruitful hypotheses: even though the mimesis phantastikè of some Ancient writers who gave free reign to their imagination is not the modern “fantasy” genre, it may teach us something about it by calling into question some too well-established definitions.

Statuts / Mentions légales
Le site de LAMO est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons BY-NC-ND