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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Maghreb Goes Abroad: The "Worlding" of Postcolonial North African Francophone Literature and Film in a Global Market
by Lewis, Mary Anne, Ph.D., Yale University, 2013, 217; 3578408
Abstract (Summary)

The Maghreb Goes Abroad seeks to broaden and nuance our understanding of francophone North Africa by examining the ways in which some of its most well known literary and cultural works and figures have navigated a global market. This project analyzes the transnational movements of postcolonial Maghrebi cultural icons, literature, and film and the ways their representations, paratexts, reception, and meanings shift when they travel. I define "worlding" as those processes of publication, edition, translation, and canonization through which a text, reliant on a cultural marketplace outside its country of origin, passes in order to reach its eventual audience, particularly in an era of globalization. I therefore build upon, but nevertheless diverge from, Spivak's notion of a "First World" marking itself onto/into a supposedly uninscribed territory culturally, politically, and especially economically. Throughout my dissertation, I look at postcolonial Maghrebi cultural production, whether in the form of historical icons, texts, or films, as a traveling commodity that is mediated as it navigates an increasingly global market.

Bridging the fields of postcolonial studies, world literature, the sociology of knowledge, and studies of global cultural production and circulation, my dissertation draws on such intellectual currents as Gérard Genette's theories of the paratext, Pascale Casanova's work on cultural capital, Richard Watts' analysis of the marketing of postcoloniality, Bourdieu's theories about media and cultural production, and Gisèle Sapiro's work on translation and circulation. The Maghreb Goes Abroad specifically examines the roles played by the publishing house, the critic, the translator, and the publicist in generating paratext that highly influences the formation and interpretation of postcolonial Maghrebi historical icons and commercially successful literature and film.

The dissertation begins with a chapter entitled "Tunisian Cinema Goes Abroad: Les Silences du palais and a Deaf Paratext," an examination of the production and reception of postcolonial Maghrebi film, specifically Tunisian director Moufida Tlatli's 1994 film Les Silences du palais. Through particular attention to, and analysis of, such paratext as summaries, reviews, critiques, and scholarly articles of the film, this chapter interrogates the potential for such paratext to represent adequately the particularities and nuances of such a film to English or French speaking audiences unfamiliar with the Maghreb, and in this case Tunisia in particular.

The second chapter, "The Djamila Phenomenon: The Cases and Faces of Two Female Algerian Revolutionaries Go Abroad," examines the integral roles played by the international press, as well as such French intellectuals and activists as Gisèle Halimi, Simone de Beauvoir, Germaine Tillion, Georges Arnaud, and Jacques Vergès, in shaping the reputations and symbolic significance of two iconic figures of the Algerian revolution, Djamila Bouhired and Djamila Boupacha. Through close readings of visual and textual depictions of the two women in the press, literature, and film, this chapter analyzes the specific functions of French cultural and judicial systems in molding the historical significance of both women in France, Algeria, and beyond.

My third chapter is entitled, "The Moroccan Years of Lead Go Abroad: Globalizing the Narrator in Malika Oufkir and Michèle Fitoussi's La Prisonnière and Tahar Ben Jelloun's Cette aveuglante absence de lumière." In both texts we see examples of narrative ventriloquism in which a Moroccan narrator's direct experiences with the Years of Lead are filtered through the voices of writers anchored in the French literary system and marketed particularly in France and the United States as "universal" testimonials that de-emphasize historical and cultural particularities. The "speaking for" performed by Fitoussi and Ben Jelloun, combined with studies of the marketing and reception of both works, thus exemplify a complex interplay among authorship, national identity, and universalism.

Chapter Four, "At Home Abroad: Tahar Ben Jelloun's Par le feu and L'Étincelle Respond to the Western Critic," turns again to Ben Jelloun in a reading of his two "instant" books, Par le feu and L'étincelle, as exemplary of the race to meet market demand of coverage of the Arab Spring through both fiction and non-fiction. Furthermore, by demonstrating how Par le feu in particular responds to critiques associated with Cette aveuglante absence de lumière, the chapter highlights the central role of the critic and literary reviews in the establishment of authorial identity and reputation as well as the author's evolving literary corpus.

This dissertation explores meaning-in-movement and its relationship to transnational market dynamics. As the cultural and historical icons, texts, and films of the postcolonial Francophone Maghreb have moved transnationally, their interpretive paradigms, and indeed the way they have been marketed and received, have likewise shifted.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Miller, Christopher L.
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 75/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Middle Eastern literature, African literature, Literature
Keywords: Culture Industry, Francophone, Maghreb Maghrib, Paratext, Post colonial, Sociology of literature
Publication Number: 3578408
ISBN: 978-1-303-71593-8
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