Cultures et représentations d'un champ disciplinaire en évolution :$ble cas de la littérature au sein des études franc̨aises à l'université en Afrique du Sud.
The purpose of this study is to investigate the evolution of cultures and representations in the field of French Studies at tertiary level in South Africa, in order to gauge its impact on the teaching of Literature. The field of French Studies, traditionally divided into the areas of language and literature, has gone through a series of far-reaching changes over the last few years, in line with global trends but also as part of the transformation of the South African educational, socio-economic and cultural landscape. This has manifested itself in a shift from a literary ‘academic’ culture to more functional, skillsbased teaching cultures, embodied in the field of French Studies, by the emergence of the discipline of French foreign language didactics. As a result, the identity of the discipline, traditionally dominated by literary studies, has been called into question, as well as the teaching approaches, content, aims and outcomes of French Studies. This study investigates representations of academics with regard to these changes, as well as the shift in disciplinary research and teaching cultures, by drawing on the values, practices and epistemological fields of language didactics and literary studies and their interaction within the wider field of French Studies. It further examines the specificity of teaching and learning literature in a foreign language environment and its relationship to established and emerging teaching cultures. The question of the evolution of teaching cultures points to the actors who define this context, that is, the academics, the students and their relationship to the literary text as a scholarly object. This study focuses in particular on academics’ profiles and representations and the construction of their relationship to the literary text in teaching and research. The knowledge, skills, perceptions, habits and values specific to these relationships underpin the overarching notion of ‘culture’ which are analysed through representations. Aspects of disciplinary, educational and interpretative cultures and representations are highlighted from the viewpoint of literature as a dialectical construction between individual reader and text and reader and culture and textual practices. With this in mind, the study explores the question of the complex identity particular to French Studies, the challenges the discipline is facing at a turning point in its disciplinary history, and the function of literature within this shifting field. Finally, it sheds light on the crucial role culture and representation play within academic disciplines.