Melbourne Salon

The Melbourne Salon is a joint venture between RMIT University, the Institute for the Study of French-Australian Relations and the Alliance Française de Melbourne.

We are affiliated to the LC Salon in Sydney.

It is a place where curious and open-minded people can engage in French-Australian cross-cultural dialogues. Talks will usually be in English; you may participate in the subsequent discussions in French or English.

The Melbourne Salon aims to:

  • broaden understanding of French and Australian perspectives on contemporary topics through conversation, debate and discussion
  • draw participants from a wide range of backgrounds: parents, teachers, academics, journalists, writers, musicians, educationalists and others who share an interest in discussing ideas in a convivial atmosphere

The Melbourne Salon meets 3 times a year at the Alliance Française de Melbourne, 51 Grey Street, St. Kilda.

Forthcoming Melbourne Salon event

Event: Unravelling the cancer puzzle from an ecological and evolutionary perspective – an Australian and French International Associated Laboratory

Presenter: Frédéric Thomas and Beata Ujvari

Date: 5 Nov. 2020

Time: 7.00pm - 8.00pm 

Venue: Online

Register here.

Download the event flyer (PDF 280KB).

Previous Melbourne Salon events

September 2020: What's France got to do with it? Contemporary memoirs of Australians in France. Author Juliana de Nooy, in conversation with Barbara Hanna, talked about her latest book and why it is that memoirs recounting sojourns in France have gained such traction among Australian women and what is at stake in their fascination with France.

November 2019: An intercultural dialogue: when linguistics are involved in the current French-Australian submarine project. In this talk, geopolitical analyst, commentator, and specialist on intercultural issues in the defence industry Dr Emmanuelle Crane, examined the role of language in enhancing dialogue and eliminating potential misunderstandings. In intercultural communication, seemingly innocent words can carry different meanings from those intended and can in fact reinforce the cultural gap. Members of the audience were treated to several fascinating examples of this and how they might be avoided.

August 2019. Book Launch: Castaway Robert Macklin recounted the astonishing story of Narcisse Pelletier, a French cabin boy abandoned on the Far North Queensland coast and saved by the local Uutaalnganu (Night Island people) with whom he lived from 1858-1875. This is an unforgettable tale of a young man caught between two cultures in a time of violent upheaval during the brutal frontier wars in Queensland (2019, Hachette Australia).

May 2019: French Cinema: The New Wave and its Legacy The late 1950s saw the dawn of what was to become known as the French New Wave, a brief but memorable period in film history that was characterised by youthful vitality, unprecedented artistic licence, technical innovation and a profound reinvention of the role of the film director as the author of his or her work. Andrew McGregor explored the careers of key filmmakers of the French New Wave and examined their lasting legacy in the context of contemporary French and international cinema.

November 2018: The Referendum in New Caledonia: what is at stake? On 4th November 2018 New Caledonia held a referendum on the future of this French overseas territory to decide whether it will remain with France or become independent. Experts Robert Aldrich and Denise Fisher discussed the background to this crucial vote: the evolving role of France in the Pacific; the issues surrounding the lead up to the vote; and what the outcome of the vote means for New Caledonia, France and Australia. 

August 2018. Melbourne Salon 02.08.18.pdf French convicts and the case for freedom in Australia. For the thousands of convicts France sent to New Caledonia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the best way to stay at large, but also the most dangerous, was to reach Australia. The ones who survived the hazardous journey were quick to disappear, doing what they needed to go on: some became prostitutes, kitchen porters, or reinvented themselves as heirs to French nobility.

May 2018: Were it but for a lemon (PDF 453 KB) The influence of scurvy on French exploration, conquest and colonisation in the 19th century was dramatic. While the two nations, France and England, rivalled each other in scientific discoveries and competed for new territories, the state of health of the crews of their sailing ships could not have been more different.

September 2017: Les masculinités de la Révolution (PDF 705 KB) Profound political and social changes resulting from the French Revolution were accompanied by a redistribution of gender roles. This talk (in French) focuses on the new representations of masculinity which emerged in literary and political texts, and in paintings and caricature from 1789.  

August 2017: Flanders in Australia: A Personal History of Wool and War (PDF 680 KB) Jacqueline Dwyer is the daughter of French wool-buyer Jacques Playoust, who was called up in 1914 to fight in the French army in the Great War. Through the life of this family a story of immigration, commerce and war is brought vividly to life.

April 2017: Mobilities and Migrations in the Bordeaux Wine Trade: From Regional Rivalries to International Icons (PDF 400KB) Jacqueline Dutton traced how regional, national and international mobilities and migrations influenced the evolution of Bordeaux wines. This presentation was accompanied by a tasting to demonstrate these different wine styles.

October 2016: The French territories in the Pacific at the very heart of the Australian-French strategic partnership (PDF 620KB) Paul Soyez presented an analysis of how the future of the French territories in the Pacific plays a key role in the deepening of the French-Australian strategic dialogue.

April 2016: La France à l'encan: Versailles, histoire d’un château et de ses collections (PDF 430KB). In this Melbourne Salon Guillaume Dillée took us behind the scenes at Versailles and recounted his worldwide searches for lost and looted items from the palace at the time of the Revolution.

July 2015: An Exercise in Agape (PDF 203KB). Eden Liddelow and Catherine de Saint Phalle discussed how they are drawn to what to translate, and explain some of the challenges they face along the way.

October 2014: Behind the scenes at SBS French radio (PDF 197KB). A Melbourne Salon event featuring Danièle Kemp as she talked about her life at SBS French radio, and in conversation with Christophe Mallet and Jean-Noël Ducasse, explained what goes on behind the scenes at SBS French radio.

July 2014: “Somewhere in France” (PDF 215KB). In this Melbourne Salon event, Diane de Saint Léger and Katie Wood discussed a collection of World War 1 memorabilia, held in the University of Melbourne Archives, which presented a snapshot of Australian soldiers’ experiences on the Western Front in France. John Drury also presented a segment ‘Dernancourt and Adelaide: Madame Mouchette and the Aftermath of the 1st World War’.

May 2014: France and Germany, Croatia and Latvia: Where next for the European Union? (PDF 300KB) A Melbourne Salon event, featuring Professor Bruce Wilson, joined by Eva Schwemmer and Dr Natalie Doyle for a Q&A panel.

October 2013: Colette’s France – her lives, her loves (PDF 333KB). A Melbourne Salon event, presented by Dr Jane Gilmour in conversation with Elaine Lewis.

April 2012: The current state of arts and culture in Australia and France with David Pledger (Artistic Director of interdisciplinary arts company, not yet it’s difficult (NYID), Inaugural Director of the Collaboration Project between the EU-funded International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts (IETM) and the Australia Council for the Arts) in conversation with Michael Shirrefs (producer and presenter of Creative Instinct, ABC Radio National).

November 2011: Georges Perec: the Australian connection, 30 Years On with Professor Norie Neumark (Chair, Cinema and Media Studies at La Trobe University), Dr Maria Miranda (media artist and Post-Doctoral Fellow at La Trobe University) and Raphaël Trantoul (coordinator of French Studies Program, La Trobe University), chaired by Philip Thiel (Melbourne-based writer, blogger). Philip Thiel and Julien Leyre (French-Australian writer, film director, blogger) ran a free writing workshop in French and English as part of this Salon.

July 2011: The Existential Piano: Chopin, George Sand, Liszt, Marie d’Agoult and the Paris Salons: in words, music, portraits and photographs presented by David Hood (musician and former 3MBS FM broadcaster).

April 2011: French storm in an Australian tea-cup: deconstructing linguistic cultural differences with Professor Christine Béal (Head of Department of Linguistics, University Paul Valéry Montpellier 3) and Dr Kerry Mullan, (Lecturer, Coordinator French Studies, RMIT).

December 2010: National Identity – French and Australian perspectives with Dr Elizabeth Rechniewski (Senior Lecturer, School of Languages and Cultures, University of Sydney), Dr Tim Soutphommasane (political theorist, commentator and research fellow at Monash University), chaired by Professor Graeme Davison (Sir John Monash Distinguished Professor in the School of Historical Studies, Monash University).

September 2010: The Great Australian Novel – a Panorama by Jean-François Vernay (Franco-Australian essayist from New Caledonia), in conversation with Elaine Lewis (founder of the Australian Bookshop in Paris).

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.