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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:54479
Doc. No:TL24433
Call number:‭3386475‬
Main Entry:Annica Schjott
Title & Author:Rewriting the past: Memory, history and narration in four novels on the MaghrebAnnica Schjott
College:Northwestern University
Date:2009
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2009
Page No:247
Abstract:This dissertation explores alternative ways of representing memory and history in novels written by four authors with connection to the Maghreb. I examine how these texts question the necessity of basing memory on an unambiguous understanding of past events and instead function as an arena within which different and even radically opposed versions of the past can be represented simultaneously. The postmodern refutation of a privileged relationship between history and any extratextual truth or authenticity, together with the poststructuralist problematization of the act of representation, has made writing of history and memory a difficult endeavor. The central dilemma is how to represent the past when it is no longer possible to consider the text as a transparent medium capable of presenting a "true" version of past events. This crisis of representation is acutely felt in the context of postcolonial, multiethnic societies such as those of the Maghreb. By using theories on narration, memory and history developed by scholars such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Gayatri Spivak, I analyze representations of the past by novelists Albert Memmi, Assia Djebar, Nadia Chafik and Claire Messud. I argue that these authours use writing as a way to explore alternative ways to represent the past in a situation where doing so is considered both impossible and imperative. In their novels, I identify a desire to counteract the reliance on myths of a stable origin or ethnic purity for the representation of the past, and a wish to embrace rather than elide conflicting interpretations and unassimilable memories. In addition, I show how the use of specific narrative techniques allows for these texts to function both as narratives of memory and history, and as metanarratives offering an exploration of the possibilities, conditions and limits of literature in accounting for human experiences in the past. I argue that each novel allows for a dialogue on the meaning of the past to take place across ethnic and cultural divisions in an effort to highlight and valorize, rather than placate, pacify or mediate, the internal contradictions and inconsistencies of competing representations of the past.
Subject:Language, literature and linguistics; Memmi, Albert; Djebar, Assia; Messud, Claire; Maghreb; Memory; Chafik, Nadia; Morocco; Narration; Algeria; Tunisia; Romance literature; African literature; 0316:African literature; 0313:Romance literature
Added Entry:D. D. Garraway, Scott
Added Entry:Northwestern University