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Semester 1

The Francophone Postcolonial: Theory and Literature (Ordinary) (ELCF09034)


European Languages and Cultures - French





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In order to be eligible to take 4th Year Options, Visiting Students should have the equivalent of at least two years of study at University level of the appropriate language(s) and culture(s).

Course Summary

This Option course will examine the development of francophone postcolonial thought since the late 1940s through the study of a number of seminal works of theory and literature. Although certain important contributors to debates relating to colonialism such as Fanon and Sartre have long been recognised beyond the French-speaking world, others have been largely overlooked by scholars and general readers alike. The lack of international recognition accorded to the considerable oeuvre of Edouard Glissant until relatively recently is a particularly noteworthy example, but the writings of theorist Albert Memmi or of novelists such as Raphael Confiant and Patrick Chamoiseau have similarly not enjoyed the degree of attention of which they are undoubtedly worthy. This course will trace the origins of postcolonial thought and offer an overview of the central themes and preoccupations associated with thinking about colonial and postcolonial questions in the francophone context. Students will also be given some insight into how these debates relate to parallel or contemporaneous debates in the Anglophone postcolonial context. In the interests of ensuring thematic coherence, the literary texts studied will all be works by writers of francophone Caribbean background. Themes covered on the course will include: bi-linguistic and bi-cultural identities in the context of colonial and postcolonial societies; the politics of anti-colonial struggle; the legacy of slavery; interstitiality and in-betweenness; creolisation; the race/culture debate; creolist literary aesthetics; postcolonialism, postmodernity and globalisation.

Course Description

Syllabus Week 1 - Zartre, Orphée noir - The first class will focus on the inception of postcolonial thinking in the francophone context. This text of Sartre s, published in the late 1940s, introduced négritude poetry and thought to the general readership thereby helping to give greater legitimacy to a powerfully anti-colonial cultural movement. Week 2 - Fanon, Peau noire, masques blancsIn this now classic work Fanon examines the psychological implications of being a black citizen in colonial territories ruled by a minority white community. Week 3 - Césaire, Discours sur le colonialismeExtracts from Anthologie des poésies noires et malgaches Aimé Césaire was closely associated with the négritude movement as a poet, but was also a leading politician serving as député for Martinique from 1945 to 19?? . His Discours was a powerful rallying call to those oppressed by colonialism. Week 4 - Memmi Portrait du colonisateur, portrait du colonisé This work, prefaced by Sartre as would be Les Damnés de la Terre, offered a distinctive perspective on issues related to colonialism by highlighting the ways in which the relationship between the coloniser and the colonised conditions each of them. Week 5 - Fanon, Les Damnés de la Terre (extracts)This book quickly became one of the best known and most widely cited works in the field of anti-colonial theory. Written and published shortly before Fanon s death, it blends anti-colonial and Marxist universalist thought, also offering perceptive analyses of the challenges facing newly independent nations. Week 6 - Anglophone postcolonial perspectives: Bhabha The Location of Culture (extracts), Spivak Can the Subaltern Speak? and Gilroy The Black Atlantic (extracts) For many years the development of postcolonial studies as a field of research took place predominantly in the Anglophone context and it is hence important to gain an awareness of some of the key debates in this area. We will look at the concepts of hybridity and in-betweenness as articulated by Bhabha, the inception of what was to become the field of Subaltern Studies by reading the best known article in the field, and Gilroy s somewhat militant defense of black cultures in and surrounding the Atlantic area. Week 7 - Chamoiseau, Confiant, Bernabé Eloge de la créolité Arguably the leading postcolonial politico-cultural tendency in the French West Indies after négritude , créolité involved asserting a determinate creole identity with the militant intention of supporting the movement for secession from France, Martinique and Guadéloupe being (and remaining to this day) départements . Week 8 - Chamoiseau, Solibo Magnifique Condé, La Traversée de la Mongrove The intertextual dialogue which exists between these literary two works is replete with ramifications for issues pertaining to Caribbean identity. Where Chamoiseau has defended a fundamentally essentialist and traditionalist image of Caribbeanness, Condé responded the following year with a parodic re-writing of his Solibo conversely promoting an open-ended, modern and rootless conception of what is it to be a creole. Week 9 -Confiant, Nègre marron A creolist novel by a leading contemporary Martiniquan author which highlights issues relating to the legacy of slavery. Week 10 - Glissant, Poétique de Relation (extracts) - Edouard Glissant is generally acknowledged to be the most eminent writer and thinker in the francophone Caribbean context. His Poétique opened up a new chapter in his oeuvre, one which ultimately proved to be the antecedent to all his thought of the last twenty years of his life. Glissant argues in favour of creolisation which, being a process, should be distinguished from the more essentializing créolité .

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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