ORONO, Maine — A symposium to explore Franco-American culture and identity will be held at the University of Maine starting Friday afternoon and continuing into Saturday.
At the event, called “In and Out of Place: Finding Home in Franco-America,” Franco-American writers and scholars will read from their work and lead discussions about French heritage in the United States.
The symposium will be hosted by UMaine’s Franco-American Centre, a community and research center and Franco-American Studies program, which offers courses to UMaine students. Events begin at 2 p.m. Friday and continue until 6 p.m. Saturday.
“The benefit of these programs is immense,” said English professor Tony Brinkley, who is also an associate faculty member of the Franco-American Centre. “You can’t have an economically powerful state if its cultural power isn’t recognized.”
Brinkley said a demographic study conducted by UMaine researchers last year showed that about 33 percent of Maine residents have some French in their background.
He said that events such as the one Friday are important because in the past, institutions such as UMaine have not invested fully in Maine’s French cultural history. In recent years that has changed, he said.
“If places like UMaine don’t provide knowledge for Maine people and affirm for Maine people who they are, they fail in their role as a land grant institutions,” Brinkley said.
Keynote speaker at the event will be Canadian author Clark Blaise, who will read from his work-in-progress “The Kerouac Who Never Was,” at 5:15 p.m. Friday, April 25.
Jacob Albert, the event organizer, said the symposium is free and will be spread out across campus. On Friday the event will start at the Franco-American Centre in Crossland Hall and then move to the Bangor Room in the Memorial Union. Saturday will all take place at DP Corbett Hall.