Assistant Professor of Québec and Francophone Canadian Literatures Adrien Rannaud teaches in the Department of Language Studies at UTM. Professor Rannaud also partakes in numerous research endeavors that focus on the literary and cultural history of Québec within the 19th to 20th centuries, women’s writing and cultural practices, history of media culture, celebrity studies, and middlebrow culture. Yet, Professor Rannaud’s achievements extend beyond his extensive research portfolio to his everyday life.
Born in Lyon, the third largest city in France, Professor Rannaud spent much of his childhood reading books on history, French culture and literature, and the early modern period of the monarchy state. Professor Rannaud contends that these subjects were most interesting to him and structured how he envisioned his future in academia.
Although many individuals face the common challenge of deciding on a career or a field of study, this was not the case for Professor Rannaud. From an early age, he envisioned himself to be a writer or historian when he grew up. Professor Rannaud was also captivated by the stories and unique experiences of women. His career today ties in these aspirations and interests as he continues to work in a field that pertains to history and literature studies as well as women’s writing and practices. He is particularly intrigued by “the relationship between print history, poetic, gender and cultural value” as well as the structure of cultural hierarchies.
Professor Rannaud did not attend university immediately upon graduating high school but rather took a two-year program that offered interdisciplinary courses—a form of higher education that is common in France. This program is known in French as “classe préparatoire aux grandes écoles,” or in translation, “preparatory classes for grandes écoles.” Typically, students enroll in these classes following their high school graduation in order to prepare for a post-secondary education.
After completing these classes, Professor Rannaud entered his third year of university at the Université Lumière Lyon 2 to pursue his bachelor’s degree in a literature program. Professor Rannaud explains it was difficult to decide which program to pursue. “I was hesitating whether I wanted to be a history teacher or a literature teacher [so] one day I took a coin and [it landed] on literature,” he admits with a chuckle.
Following his education in France, he moved to Québec as part of a student exchange program and later obtained a job in the province. Next, he returned to France to complete his Master’s in literature at the Université Lumière Lyon 2, and traveled to Québec to earn his Ph.D. at the Université Laval in Literary Studies.
Professor Rannaud recalls one of his favourite—yet nerve-wracking—days to be the day he defended his Ph.D. dissertation. “This is the only moment when you can go deeper into your own research and have fun telling others about what you like to do the most,” says Professor Rannaud. Ultimately, his hard work paid off, and today Professor Rannaud resides in Toronto and is a junior faculty member at UTM since July 2019.
Currently, Professor Rannaud teaches a seminar on women’s writing in Québec between 1830 and 1960 at U of T’s St. George’s campus, as well as both French and Francophone Literatures courses at UTM. In terms of his method of teaching, Professor Rannaud describes that it has changed considerably following the pandemic with adjustments to an online style of education. “I would say that my teaching approach is [focused] on giving students the best way to develop their competence and attitudes as scholars,” he says.
Professor Rannaud recognizes how difficult it is for students to live their full potential when they must focus on details such as dates of certain events or names of historical figures. As such, he prefers to focus on how students can learn best in a comfortable environment. Professor Rannaud asserts that in his classes, he assigns workshops where students are asked to reflect on questions asked about the material applied in the course. As he explains, it is more important to focus on their “experiences” as scholars and students than on strict learning induced by memorizing facts.
Regarding his current research, Professor Rannaud is focused on examining celebrity culture and press culture in Québec. He is in the final stages of publishing his monography entitled La Révolution du magazine. Poétique historique de La Revue moderne (1919-1960). This manuscript studies the “development of one of the first magazines in Quebec, “La Revue Moderne,” and the influence it exerted in the literary and public spheres.” His project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) as well as the University of Toronto.
Among many different topics and resources, he draws on novels, magazines, chronicles, and newspapers as part of his research. “What I want to work on is to [answer] what it means being middlebrow in terms of writing practices,” Professor Rannaud adds that he is looking to “explore the link between women’s writing and middlebrow literary culture.”
Prior to the pandemic, Professor Rannaud spent approximately eight months at the UTM campus as a professor and was still fairly new to the school. He explains that, like many other new faculty members, he spent a lot of his time becoming familiar with the campus environment and being accustomed to an anglophone atmosphere. “My everyday life is shared between teaching and doing research,” he explains. Undoubtedly, it is difficult for any individual to adapt to an unfamiliar climate. Regardless, Professor Rannaud continues to work diligently and applies all his efforts towards ensuring a smooth transition in his professional career as well as in his teaching.
Professor Rannaud has many goals career-wise but also for his life outside of being a researcher and professor. He explains that although he is not an expert in Indigenous studies, he is committed to pursuing an additional course at UTM in the near future. Professor Rennaud says, “I’m really eager to learn more about Francophone Indigenous literature.” He hopes to take on this area of study and educate others about these experiences, informing students of Indigenous history.
Looking beyond his professional life, Professor Rannaud plans to travel across North America one day and visit popular landmarks while also admiring new territory. However, his passion for his research transcends in his everyday life. Many of his aspirations, even those revolving around travel and leisure, are in the context of his research and work towards objectives he has yet to attain.In speaking with Professor Rannaud, it is evident that his warm, compassionate, and ambitious personality makes him approachable and easy to communicate with. His constant drive for learning and relentless search for ways to fuel his knowledge is remarkably motivating and inspiring to his students. Professor Rennaud sincerely cares for his students’ well-being and the prosperity of the individuals around him.