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Genet: A Remarkable 20th-century Writer at the Convergence of Homosexuality, Homosociality and AIDS

Date: 24 Feb 2023, 6:00pm - 8:00pm (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)

As a thin slice of research from her book-in-progress comparing certain 20th-century gay male writers and their respective queer communities, in New York and Paris, before, during and after the Western AIDS epidemic (1996, when effective antiretroviral treatment was discovered), French Language and Francophone Studies educator and Alliance Française instructor Claudia Brown will give a talk on the remarkable French writer, Jean Genet (1910-1986).

Claudia’s presentation will explore Genet’s underground homosexual – and homosocial – first novel, Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs (1943) (Eng, Our Lady of the Flowers), written entirely while in prison. Orphaned, uneducated and constantly in and out of jail, Genet is introduced into the Paris literary world by fellow artist Jean Cocteau who recognizes Our Lady of the Flowers as a masterpiece, “a mythology of ‘queers’,” and helps get it published.

Through explications of the novel’s poetic passages as well as Genet’s unique perspective of gay life, Claudia will share how and why Genet, this gruff, thuggish autodidact, influenced popular notions of homosexual existence in post-war France, more than 20 years before the eruption of the Gay Liberation Movement, in France and the US.

Questions and discussion encouraged after the presentation.


Date : Friday, February 24 
Time : 6 PM 
Duration : 50 minutes presentation + Q&A 
Location : In person or Online (Zoom) 
Language : English 
Fee : $10 for non members / Free for Alliance Française members 


Claudia Brown has been an educator of French Language, Literature and Francophone Studies for over 25 years, mostly at the university level, and is currently an instructor at the Alliance Française de Philadelphie.  She is also a journalist who has contributed articles to the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, CNN International, among others.  She is currently at work on a cross-cultural, personal narrative/research project on 20th-century gay male writers, their queer communities and their depiction of the AIDS epidemic, in New York and Paris.

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