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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:55483
Doc. No:TL25437
Call number:‭3174066‬
Main Entry:John Patrick Walsh
Title & Author:What children say: Childhood in francophone literature of the French Antilles and North and West AfricaJohn Patrick Walsh
College:Harvard University
Date:2005
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2005
Page No:230
Abstract:A significant body of literature in Francophone North and West Africa, and the French Antilles describes the pain and pleasure of the indigenous child growing up under colonial rule or in postcolonial societies. In the dissertation, I propose that the literary project of remembering childhood must confront colonial oppression in a Francophone world that did much to silence the marginalized. In Chapters One and Two, I compare Patrick Chamoiseau's treatment of a Martinican childhood and Creole identity in his two-volume account, Antan d'enfance and Chemin-d'École (1993 and 1994) to Maryse Condé's tales of a Guadeloupean childhood in Le cœur à rire et à pleurer: contes vrais de mon enfance (1999). In Chapter Three, I move to Algeria and read Malika Mokeddem's Les hommes qui marchent (1990), an autofictional work that retraces the itinerary of a young Algerian girl who navigates the confinement of Arabo-Islamic patriarchy and the violence of the Algerian War. Finally, in Chapter Four, I read Ahmadou Kourouma's Allah n'est pas obligé (2000), a fictional novel that depicts the life of a child-soldier in Liberia and Sierra Leone during the 1990s. Through close textual analysis, I demonstrate how each writer invents a child out of a melange of fact and fiction. My work treats accounts of childhood across different generational and geographical divides and, as such, pays attention to the diversity of childhood in Francophone literary history. I argue that the figure and time of childhood cannot be reduced to a generalized conception or universal symbol; rather, the reconstructed child is a powerful questioning of colonial and postcolonial stereotypes and of the too often neat temporal categories of colonial and postcolonial. Each writer locates the child between languages and cultures, exploring the possibility of minority subject formation and describing the confluence of personal and social journeys under colonialism and departmentalization. Chamoiseau sets the stage by asking, “Can you tell of a childhood what is no longer known?” (Gallimard, 1993, 21). My inquiry into memories of childhood takes Chamoiseau's sweeping question as its cue to see how remembering the past in the figure of the child is an effective technique for making claims of identity in the present. Chamoiseau's reflection on childhood is crucial because it contains in one concise question the two problematics I set out to explore. The first issue is portraying life in the margins of French colonial and departmental worlds. The second is the writing of childhood, a time whose recall requires piecing together fragments of memory. My dissertation elaborates on the two topics outlined here by bringing together and developing interpretive tools that guide my readings. In my analysis, I read childhood through Sigmund Freud's theory of childhood memory; the role of language in D. W. Winnicott's model of the transitional object in a child's pyschogenesis; Edouard Glissant's relational understanding of identity; Gilles Deleuze's and Félix Guattari's theory of minor literature; Michel de Certeau's work on space and language; and Marianne Hirsch's theory of postmemory. This theoretical backbone supports my close readings in a productive examination of the figure of the child in Francophone literature.
Subject:Language, literature and linguistics; Ahmadou Kourouma; Algeria; Chamoiseau, Patrick; Conde, Maryse; Cote d'Ivoire; Francophone; French Antilles; Guadeloupe; Kourouma, Ahmadou; Malika Mokeddem; Martinique; Maryse Conde; Mokeddem, Malika; Patrick Chamoiseau; Literature; Caribbean literature; African literature; Comparative literature; 0298:Literature; 0295:Comparative literature; 0316:African literature; 0360:Caribbean literature
Added Entry:T. Conley
Added Entry:Harvard University