French novelist Édouard Louis to visit MIT on October 27, 2017
Can fiction spark social change?
Louis will speak on literature, shame, and politics.


                                                                                                                      Photocredit: John Foley

Presentation followed by Q&A
Friday, October 27, 2017

5:30pm in 2-105

Event hosted by the MIT Global France Seminar
and the MIT Global Studies & Languages section


Is literature a tool to expand our awareness and challenge society? Or does it reinforce the existing social order and its violence?

Growing up poor in northern France, Édouard Louis got no breaks. His parents made him beg for food. His classmates beat him, calling him a “faggot.”  Louis managed to break free of this life, in large part through writing.

Today, the 25-year-old has become a literary sensation at home and abroad, with the publication of two novels, The End of Eddy (2014) and History of Violence (2016), which have been translated into more than 25 languages. In these books, Louis mines his own experiences and targets a social order riddled with class inequity and violence. But can literature effectively confront and potentially transform society, or does it merely reinforce the status quo?

Following the talk, Bruno Perreau, Cynthia L. Reed Professor of French Studies and Language, will lead Q&A. The seminar is sponsored by the French Initiatives Endowment Fund.


Édouard Louis
was born Eddy Bellegueule in the village of Hallencourt. His father was a factory worker until an injury left him permanently unemployed; his mother found occasional work bathing the elderly. In 2011, Louis moved to Paris and studied philosophy and sociology at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, and began fiction writing. Louis’ two novels, which deal with extreme poverty and institutionalized social violence, provoked debate in France and around the world. He is the co-author, along with the philosopher Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, of "Manifesto for an Intellectual and Political Counteroffensive," published in English by the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Bruno Perreau
is the Cynthia L. Reed Professor of French Studies and Language, and Associate Professor of French Studies. He received his PhD in political science from the University of Paris 1, and taught for ten years at Sciences Po. He has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; a Research Associate at the University of Cambridge, Jesus College; and a Fellow at Stanford Humanities Center. Perreau is the author of nine books on political institutions and ideas, bioethics, gender in translation, and queer theory. He has recently published The Politics of Adoption (MIT Press, 2014), Queer Theory: The French Response (Stanford University Press, 2016), and Les Défis de la République (coedited with Joan W. Scott, Presses de Sciences Po, 2017).

Suggested links

Bruno Perreau
Perreau is the Cynthia L. Reed Professor, and Associate Professor of French Studies. He is a specialist in critical theory, gender and queer studies, and French politics.
Story: Perreau named named to the French l’Ordre des Palmes académiques

Édouard Louis | Blog
Author of The End of Eddy (2014) and History of Violence (2016), which have been translated into more than 25 languages. 
Review in The Guardian of
En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule (The End of Eddy).

Global Studies & Languages
MIT GSL is committed to promoting research agendas that will transform international cultural studies for the 21st century while also training students to be the next generation of engaged global citizens. GSL is one of the major academic disciplines of the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

MIT Global France Seminar
The MIT Global France Seminar aims to bring together MIT faculty, instructors, and graduate students from across disciplines interested in the study of French and francophone cultures around the world. The seminar series is free and open to the public.