As you know, our former Director and Colleague, Roland J. Le Huenen, passed away last weekend, September 13, 2020 . I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to a truly impressive scholar and dedicated academic leader who made such a mark on both the Centre and his field of French literature and culture. As many of you are likely aware, it is due to Roland’s astute powers of negotiation that we, in the Centre, occupy what is probably the best departmental space on the entire St. George campus. It was Roland who took the Centre out of the windowless dungeon on the 14th floor of Robarts and into our bright and warm space in the Bader Theatre. In addition to supporting the Centre in this very tangible way, Roland expanded Complit’s faculty complement by bringing in 10 new core members (Eric Cazdyn, Rebecca Comay, Uzoma Esonwanne, Eva-Lynn Jagoe, Ann Komaromi, Julie Leblanc, Jill Ross, John Zilcosky., Thomas Lahusen, and Victor Li). This is a remarkable achievement, and our Centre would be a very different place today without all these colleagues.
Roland was educated at the French universities of Caen and Strasbourg where he received his Doctorat ès Lettres in 1968. He was hired the same year by the Department of French at the University of Toronto. He took office as Director of the Centre for Comparative Literature in1998 and held this position until 2009. Roland’s research focused on the French Literature of the 19th century. His early work involved a structural approach of the character in fiction from the vantage point of semiotics and narratology. More current concerns led him to explore how the 19th century French novel creates its own tools to offer a critical representation of the social issues of the time. Another side of his research interests explored a number of issues found in travel narratives viewed as an open genre. A Fellow of the Royal Society, Roland’s distinguished career included Visiting Professorships at numerous institutions, ranging from Tel Aviv University, Université de Montréal, Paris 7-Denis Diderot, and Paris-Sorbonne, and he held the Distinguished Melodia Jones Professorship in French Literature at SUNY Buffalo from 1986 to 1994. He co-founded in 1975 the Groupe international de recherches balzaciennes (GIRB) whose aim was to examine the work of the French novelist Balzac through the lens of various contemporary theoretical approaches: semiotics, genetic criticism, sociocriticism (sociocritique), among others.. His publications focus especially on Balzac’s fiction, the 19th Century French novel and travel literature. His books include : Balzac, sémiotique du personnage romanesque (co-author,1980), Récits, contes et légendes de Saint-Pierre et Miquelon (Prix France-Acadie 1986), a critical edition of Gobineau’s Voyage à Terre-Neuve (1989), Discourse on Voyages to the New World (ed. 1990), Le narratif hors de soi (ed. 1997), Itinéraires du XIXème siècle (co-ed.), vol. 1 and 2 (1996 and 2001), L’Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem de Chateaubriand : l’invention du voyage romantique (co-author, 2006), and Le Récit de voyage au fil de la littérature (Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2015).
Those who would like to make a gift to Victoria University in memory of Professor Roland Le Huenen can mail a cheque or donate online. Mail cheque to: Victoria University, Office of Alumni Affairs & Advancement,150 Charles Street West, 3rd Floor, Toronto ON M5S 1K9 Please indicate on the cheque that your gift is in memory of Professor Roland Le Huenen. To donate online: visit vicu.utoronto.ca/giving. Please fill in the amount of your gift on the giving form under “Designation/Other” and specify in the space provided that your donation is in memory of Professor Le Huenen. Gifts received to Victoria University will be directed towards supporting student scholarships in memory of Professor Roland Le Huenen’s life as an esteemed professor and Director of the Centre and a longstanding member of the Victoria College community.
Jill Ross, Director
Centre for Comparative Literature
Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Medieval Studies
University of Toronto
Monday, September 21, 2020