History, French, Faculty

History's Roxanne Panchasi: Podcasting French Studies

February 20, 2014
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French historian Roxanne Panchasi is the host of New Books in French Studies, a podcast on the New Books Network.  After attending a 2013 conference in honour of her former supervisor, Panchasi grew excited about the idea of interviewing her French Studies colleagues as a way to showcase interesting new work in the field.  Upon her return to SFU, she contacted New Books Network Editor-in Chief Marshall Poe about hosting a podcast and was given the green light to proceed.

Panchasi purchased a microphone and software for recording and editing in March 2013, and began conducting interviews with scholars in her field about their newly published books.  Since then she has produced a new interview about once a month. Her most recent interview features French scholar Camille Robcis’s new book The Law of Kinship: Anthropology, Psychoanalysis, and the Family in France.  It examines the work of early “familialists” who argued for the family as essential to “the social,” and reads Levi-Strauss and Lacan in relationship to ideas and policies dealing with the family in broader political and legal context in France.

Panchasi asks questions of her guests that “let authors speak about their process, what they were trying to do,” an approach her interviewees appreciate; scholars are excited to be asked about the process and intention behind their research projects because “we don’t get to talk about our work in this way.”  She finds that allowing authors to elaborate on their thinking, and on the research findings and observations that may not have made the final cut, is rewarding for both author and listener. 

Hosting the New Books in French Studies (NBFS) podcast has enriched her professional life in other ways as well.  It has given Panchasi an enjoyable way to network with other French historians without relying solely on the conference circuit. She finds the podcast is both an exciting way to engage her field and an enjoyable, creative way to work. The podcast has also prompted her to read more broadly in her field and broaden the horizons of possibility in her own projects

As Panchasi notes, listening to podcasts on NBFS can provide quick exposure to scholarly works for busy academics.  Fans of the podcast have shared their enthusiasm with Panchasi, who explains, “we don’t get to read everything we want to,” so NBFS interviews can give a  “glimpse of the book you might not have time to read” and is “a quick way to get the answer – do you need or want to read this book? Teach this book?”

On a wider scale, the podcast is a creative contribution to the field that both showcases authors’ perspectives on their own work while giving listeners an intimate glimpse into new scholarship in French Studies. Panchasi’s personal experience is an inspiring example of how experimenting beyond the boundaries of the traditional mediums of academia can prove both personally and professionally rewarding.  

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