Poetics of the “Chantier” (From Mallarmé to Macher and Beck)

1-2pm, 2 April 2024, Buchanan 216

Dr Elodie Laügt

The ‘chantier’ has multiple literal and figurative senses: as a site of activity and production in relation to which modern and contemporary French poets have positioned themselves and their practices; as a place whose material, processes and stories are transformed and elevated into poetry; as a space, hidden in plain sight, whose access is forbidden to the public but that is visited by poets to be revealed for what it is : polyphonic, traditionally composed of men and marked by structures of domination inherited from colonisation, dangerous, full of waste that resists romanticisation. Because the building site, in its proximity with the archaeological dig and the ruin, is inextricably linked to the violence inflicted on the landscape, on nature, and on those – human and non-human animals or plants – who live on its site or in its vicinity, I would like to suggest that the ‘chantier’ functions poetically as a topos which can help understand our condition of ‘sentimental beings’ in a time of environmental destruction.