Wednesday 10 April 2019 – Lunchtime seminar with Dr Amy Wigelsworth (Senior lecturer in French in the Sheffield Business School)

Title: ‘Books at Work: Destruction, Creation and (Self-)Preservation in Le liseur du 6h27’
Speaker: Dr Amy Wigelsworth (Senior Lecturer in French in the Sheffield Business School)

Jean-Paul Didierlaurent’s Le liseur du 6h27, winner of the sixth Prix du roman d’entreprise et du travail (prize for the best business- or work-related novel) (2015), tells the story of reluctant book-pulping machine operative Ghislain Vignolles, who each day rescues a few random pages from destruction, to read aloud to his fellow-commuters in the morning train. The novel crystallises the fascinating, and frequently contradictory, relationship of the book to our modern working lives.

The fear of ‘la littérature industrielle’, famously expressed by Sainte-Beuve (1839) is given a nightmarish update, with the automation used to facilitate the mass production of books in the nineteenth century now complicit in their destruction. The creative potential of the book, however, endures (in spite of – or perhaps thanks to – the fragmented form), as the new friendships and reading communities forged by Ghislain’s readings testify.

The endurance of narrative is confirmed by Ghislain’s discovery of a USB key containing the diary of a young woman who writes with humour and sagacity of her work as a ‘dame pipi’, and by his romantic quest (self-consciously fictional) to track down the captivating toilet attendant. Individuals as well as narratives are preserved in and by the novel, with books providing a welcome antidote to the depersonalising and oppressive effects of the neo-liberal workplace.

In this seminar, Dr Wigelsworth proposes to examine these aspects of Didierlaurent’s novel, and to pin down its particular relevance to the field of Cultural Studies, by focussing on the cultural, historical, political and social dynamics at work, both within and beyond the diegesis.

Dr Amy Wigelsworth is a Senior Lecturer in French within the Sheffield Business School. Her main area of expertise is French popular culture. She is the author of the monograph Rewriting Les Mystères de Paris: The Mystères Urbains and the Palimpsest (2016), as well as a number of articles and a book chapter on French urban mysteries and French crime fiction, and is also co-editor, with Angela Kimyongür, of Rewriting Wrongs: French Crime Fiction and the Palimpsest (2014). Her current research is on work and culture, with a particular focus on French fictional representations of work, and the socio-cultural contexts in which such texts are produced, marketed and consumed.


See here for details of other seminars in the series.

All SHU staff and students are welcome to attend the C3RI Lunchtime Research Seminars. If you are from outside of the University and would like to attend a seminar, please email the C3RI Administrator to arrange entry.