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U. of I. historian invited to Paris conference on Lafayette's legacy

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — John Lynn, a professor of French history and of military history at the University of Illinois, is one of six U.S. professors invited to take part in a three-day analysis and celebration of Franco-American friendship in Paris.

In 2005, Lynn was awarded one of France’s highest honors for academic achievement, the Palmes Académiques (Academic Palms) for his work as a historian. Two of Lynn’s books and many of his works have been translated into French, among other languages.

The conference, which takes place Dec. 12-14, will include colloquia on a range of cultural, economic and historical topics.

The event coincides with the 250th anniversary of the birth of the Marquis de Lafayette, a native of France who during the American Revolution became a strong ally, military leader and hero of the young U.S. republic.

According to the conference organizers, the main goal of “Transatlantic Modernity: What is Lafayette’s Legacy to Us Today?” is to initiate a discussion about a “striking and persisting contradiction: Never have transatlantic links between the American and French business worlds and between their cultural and academic networks worked so well as they do today. But public knowledge of American life remains a caricature.”

“We hope to understand better America’s appeal and the spirit that guides it, whether in the business world, in the domains of research or in the universities. In the same way, we will investigate the American view of Europe in general and of France in particular.”

Louis Giscard d’Estaing, the president of the French-American Caucus, will preside. Others attending will be Bernard Kouchner, French Minister of Foreign Affairs; Alain Marleix, France’s Secretary of State for Defense; and Craig Stapleton, the U.S. Ambassador to France.

French and American academics, ambassadors, company heads, elected representatives and officials, journalists, military chiefs and U.S. mayors from towns named “Lafayette” – in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York and North Carolina – have been invited to the event.

The conference, at the Hotel Concorde La Fayette, 3 Place du Général Koenig, is sponsored by many national and international corporations and by the Center of National Monuments, the Chamber of Commerce and of Industry of Paris, the City Hall of Vincennes, the French-American Foundation and ActuPresse Com.