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Campus Now

Midsummer Issue (Jul. 2013)

A WASEDA Miscellany

Odile DUSSUD

My pleasure:
discussing with students,
reflecting the attraction of words

Odile DUSSUD
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences

In the last year of High School (majoring mathematics), I hesitated which study I would major at universitybetween paleoecology and classical literature. Both were concerned as reconstruction of the past, dealingwith material trace, paleoecology seemed to be reliable, safe and yet likely to offer pleasant surprises. On theother hand, classical literature seemed to be more “risky” since I would have to deal with the ancient way offeeling, thinking and writing, moreover, to explore fascinating texts which get me into the inside of story. As Iread them, my sensibility or even my behaviour had been influenced. In spite or because of all these reasons,I felt classical literature would be the most enthralling as my study. Furthermore, I was fond of language andmythology of the Ancient Greek and Roman Culture. They were also one of my passion, so I finally decidedto study further on literature.

The training I was given in the special classes studying for the entrance exam for Ecole Normale Supérieurein Paris took me for 4 years to get in. All the courses I attended at school gave me the intellectual strength todevelop these early inclinations and incorporate them in my actual research activities. The multidisciplinarylessons (literature, philosophy, history, English, Latin and Greek) and the discussions with my classmateswidened my interests. They taught me not to hesitate to read difficult contemporary works and admire theimportant texts of theory or poetry. These studies also enabled me to distinguish questions from my ownresearch more accurately as well as where I stood about the contemporary trend of literary studies. RolandBarthes’ works had a great importance and determined the rhetorical aspect of my method.

Since1987, I’d taught at several university in Japan as a part-time instructor for 5, 6 years. After I workedfor Tokyo University at Komaba Campus for 6 years, I started my career at Waseda University as ProfessorMasao Suzuki who has been working there introduced me. I have been researching different writings of the17th and 18th century in France, mainly examining the way Fénelon integrate Greek and Roman materialsin his works and the reason why he did so. Moreover, I found the significance of regarding moral, social,political and religious context of his time. In 2009, I got an opportunity to go to France in a research teamon a sabbatical leave which was such a rewarding experience for me. I became interested in the field ofnewspaper since I met some French researchers there, exploring the ways the journalists expressed the factsin those times. Those documents are open to read on the Web more and more these days.

Astonishingly, all these studies didn’t lessen the pleasure I have in reading books. Once I have finishedscrutinizing a literary writing down to the smallest detail, I read it again entirely, I am always surprised to findmyself enjoying a new and to be once more bewitched as if I have read the text for the first time. I feel thatneither all the papers and books I read about it, nor my own limited research work exhaust its enigmaticenergy and I am glad to think that new researchers will be attracted and discover more and more about it.Reading works of the past and talking about it with Japanese students in my seminar at Waseda Universityis always stimulating for me. I hope I could share my passion with them, stimulate their desire of researchingthe same field and give them some hints about how to do it, in their professional or private life. Dealing withliterature is one of the few activities in which aging means getting more pleasure and more strength.