"Brouillons d'ecrivains" is one of the virtual exhibitions made available by the Bibliotheque nationale de France on its website. It is centered on manuscripts that belong to the BnF collection. Readers may look at excerpts from manuscripts of Balzac, Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, Emile Zola, Marcel Proust, Jean-Paul Sartre, Raymond Queneau, and Georges Perec, to name just some of them. Short descriptions highlight the manuscripts main features and allow a better understanding of each author's techniques, standards, and intents. The website has three sections: 1. "En Images": Flash presentation of the manuscripts, the authors and a few pages; 2. "Arret sur..." : dossiers on related themes (e.g. the preservation of authors' manuscripts throughout time; the genealogy of texts); 3. "Dossiers d'ecrivains": specific portfolios on Hugo, Zola and Proust. There are three additional sections: a. "rencontres": audio interviews of contemporary writers reflecting on the concept of "brouillon" ; "pistes pedagogiques" suggests ways of incorporating the study of the manuscript in the instruction, and links to downloadable files that contains the visual and textual materials (in pdf format) presented on the site; finally "reperes" provides a bibliography and a list of related links.
Type of Material:
Reference material, mainly texts and images. Some audio-visual components.
One may incorporate this resource in literature courses that focus on creative processes. N.B. The section "pistes pedagogiques" was developed in consideration for the French "seconde" (French 10-11th grade) literature programs that include courses in "genetique des textes" (text production). "Brouillons d'ecrivains" may also be used in creative writing courses, to illustrate various creative processes.
Latest Flash version for the first section "En images", and for "rencontres" (films of writers' interviews).
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Develop proficiency in critical theory (text production) and literary and cultural history. Students of writing can also compare their own personal writing processes to those of the authors featured,
developing an awareness of their own practice.
Target Student Population:
Native speakers and FSL graduate and advanced students. Students of French literature and those enrolled in writing courses.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Advanced to superior proficiency in culture and language.
The quality of the content is excellent. The manuscripts were carefully chosen to illustrate a broad variety of writing techniques and to help understand each author's approach to writing. The enlarged images(reproductions of pages from manuscripts) are of the best visual quality. The descriptions and analysis of the manuscripts are concise and focused, providing a wealth of informations on each author's techniques.
The Pistes Pedagogiques make fine use of modern media to give the user insight into a given author's style. An example from Zola's L'Assommoir, contains links to various passages of the novel where the main character, Gervaise, is described from the point of view of a variety of other characters and from her own perspective. The links are arranged sequentially to cover various moments in her life, from her youth to her tragic adult life. The choice of these particular scenes bring memories of graduate seminars where groups of students, Livre de poche in hand, would leaf through pages, painstakingly building such a portrait. This web site allows the self-directed learner easy access to thetext with the click of a mouse. A similar analysis of Zola's research into the effect of alcoholism gives the user a first-hand view of how the Realist dealt with social issues in his fiction.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This website would be an excellent complement to a literature course centered on writing as a process. "Brouillons d'ecrivains" provides materials for discussion in critical theory as well as creative writing courses. The various comments from authors on writing today and more particularly, the effect that the computer will have on the draft process in the future,
can spark lively classroom discussions. On the one hand, it seems like such a privilege to be able to look into the thought process of a writer by perusing his manuscripts with all the jotting down of corrections in the margins, doodles and words crossed out. On the other hand, the web site makes us ponder how the computer with its cut, copy and paste will effect our access to this early stage of the writing process in the future.
The multisensory approach to literature will appeal to users of a wide variety of learning styles. Hearing the extracts from the CD-ROM "L'Aventure des ecritures" while seein g a photo of the author and his manuscript at the same time, will appeal to both visual and auditory learners. The Pistes pedagogiques give faculty excellent ideas for manipulating the texts on the site. Good use is made of stand-alone dossiers on Proust, Hugo and Zola. Having the ability to use text-only as well as the multimedia versions of certain segments makes the site accessible to more learners.
In Reperes, the external links give students access to the latest in e-writing, making the site more global in its treatment of writers past and present.
The pedagogical portfolios ("pistes pedagogiques" ) may be disappointing to some users because they do not strictly pertain to the main theme. Also, since they were designed with French literature programs in mind, they may not always fit FSL learners needs as well as those of native speakers. Instructors may choose to use only some of the site's features in third and fourth year literature courses.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
"Brouillons d'ecrivains" has an attractive design and is easy to navigate. Following the concept of all BnF virtual exhibitions,
it may be explored in various directions, allowing to return to the main menu from each page.
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