chercheur, anthropologue, pédagogue

Category: Archive documents

A new life for the Jousse archives

On March 31, 2021, the Jousse archives were received by the library of the Institut Catholique de Paris. They will thus be preserved and classified by professionals, then made accessible to researchers, for a better knowledge of his life and work.

After making available to the public all the transcriptions of his lectures, the Association Marcel Jousse has once again taken a major step forward for the posterity of Jousse’s work.

These seven boxes of archives include documents on Jousse’s life and research, as well as on the work of his collaborator Gabrielle Baron after his death, leading to the creation of the Association Marcel Jousse.

Élisabeth d’Eudeville, secretary of the association, has been very persistent for many years in the search for an institution that could receive these archives. An agreement was finally reached with the Institut Catholique de Paris… and the context of the COVID epidemic had again postponed this transfer. So that’s it!

We will keep you informed about the work of valorization which will be carried out under the responsibility of Guillaume Boyer, curator of the ancient and patrimonial collections.

The next event is the planned publication in April of a special issue on Marcel Jousse of the ICP academic journal, Transversalités.

To be continued!

Jousse according to the TIME Magazine, Nov. 6, 1939

To the Society of Jesus, militant defenders of Roman Catholic orthodoxy, a French Jesuit named Marcel Jousse has long been its enfant terrible. A onetime artillery captain who began studying for the order after World War I, white-haired, fiftyish Père Jousse invented and today teaches something he calls Rhyth-mocatechism, or preaching with gestures.

His theory began to evolve when he noticed a distinction between anthropoid and apish mimicry: children can imitate such actions as shaving and shooting without using razors or guns; but apes cannot, or do not. Père Jousse decided that miming and gesturing came before writing; hieroglyphics, he believed, were not ideograms, but mimograms, representations of significant gestures.

From his researches Père Jousse concluded that it was possible to reconstruct not only what Jesus said, but how He said it, from texts in Aramaic—the language which many believe that Jesus spoke, and which Père Jousse believes is admirably fitted for eloquent gesturing. To other Jesuits, his theories smelled of heresy. But Père Jousse argued himself out of trouble, even convinced the late Pope Pius XI, in a personal interview whose words and gestures were not reported, that he was fundamentally orthodox.

War notwithstanding, in Paris last week Père Jousse made ready to resume at the Sorbonne his course in rhythmocatechism. Its title: Les Rhytlimes Formulaires de I’Apocalypse d’Ezdras et le Style Oral Palestinien. Père Jousse’s first enrolée was his good friend and collaborator, a tiny, wrinkled, white-haired spinster, by name Ms Gabrielle Desgrées du Lou. This lady, who must enroll as a student in order to get in the Sorbonne, does Père Jousse’s gestures for him on the platform. While chanting, for example, Jesus’ parable of the houses built on sand and on rock, Ms Desgrées du Lou rolls her eyes, waves her arms, twists and sways like a ballet dancer. When Père Jousse lectures, 200 people watch goggle-eyed: doctors, spiritualists, philologists, ballet students, poets (among them Paul Valery)—and two Jesuit theologians, hawklike for heresies.

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