In March of this year, Professors Shirley Jordan and Edward Hughes were both in St Louis, Missouri in the American Midwest to present research papers at the Contemporary French and Francophone Studies international colloquium. The conference is an annual event in the United States and draws speakers from around the world. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Passages, Seuils, Portes’ – an appropriate title since St Louis, which has a rich French heritage, is known as ‘the gateway to the West’, symbolised by its famous Gateway Arch which stands on the Mississippi River. The conference offered a great opportunity for thinking about how texts, forms, media, people and ideas meet, open up to each other and cross boundaries. Shirley Jordan spoke on the subject of ‘Thresholds and Disgust in Marie NDiaye’, while Edward Hughes’s presentation was on ‘Borders and the Negotiation of Identity in the Work of Mohammed Dib’.