7AAFM165 Contemporary Francophone Literatures
Credit value: 20 credits
Module tutor: Professor Nicholas Harrison
Assessment: one 5,000 word essay
Teaching pattern: one two-hour seminar per week
One of the liveliest and most significant aspects of contemporary literature in French is so-called ‘francophone’ literature, a category usually reserved for writers from former French colonies. This area of research has been reinvigorated in recent years through the upsurge in critical interest in ‘postcolonial’ literatures and cultures, as well as through the richness and ambition of the work of the best contemporary francophone writers.
This module offers an overview of certain themes and debates that could be said to characterize francophone and postcolonial literatures, and at the same time calls into question the value of such general categories. The challenge, for the postcolonial/francophone critic, is to grasp texts in their historical context without reducing them to mere ‘reflections’ of it. With these aims in mind, the module focuses on authors from North Africa, of diverse ethnic backgrounds (including Arab, Berber and Jewish), and on two particular periods of literary production. The first half of the course concentrates on seminal texts written between World War II and the Algerian war of independence, whose recurring concerns include anti-colonialism, the forms of oppression and ‘hybrid’ cultures produced by colonial regimes, and the uses of literature as testimony and polemic. The second half of term focuses on texts written in the last two decades, when authors have reconsidered the ‘postcolonial’ legacy and its myths. These texts repeatedly address questions of gender, ethnicity and language, and the relation between individual and collective history; all could be seen as exercises in ‘self writing’, and all extend the processes of literary and formal experimentation already begun by ‘francophone’ writers of the colonial era.
Fadhma Aïth Mansour Amrouche, Histoire de ma vie (Paris: La Découverte, 2000 [1946/1962]); selected essays from Assia Djebar, Ces voix qui m’assiègent (Paris: Albin Michel, 1999)
Mouloud Feraoun, Le Fils du pauvre ([1950/edited version1954] Paris: Points, 1997)
Mohammed Dib, La Grande Maison (Paris: Seuil, ‘Points’, 1952)
Albert Memmi, La Statue de sel (Paris: Gallimard ‘Folio’, 1953)
Assia Djebar, L'Amour, la fantasia (Paris: Albin Michel, 1995)
Jacques Derrida, Le Monolinguisme de l’autre (Paris: Galilée ‘Incises’, 1996)
Leila Sebbar (ed), Une enfance algérienne (Paris: Gallimard ‘Folio’, 1997)
Assia Djebar, Nulle part dans la maison de mon père (Paris: Fayard, 2007)