French and Italian | Littérature du Sénégal d’hier et d’aujourd’hui
F650 | 25739 | Prof. Eileen Julien


Topic: Entre l’enracinement et le cosmopolitanisme.  The French
language litterature of Senegal, a dynamic and cosmopolitan nation
on the West Coast of Africa, is one of the oldest and richest on the
continent. In this course, we will examine writers of Senegal as
they negotiate « localness » and « the global ». In fact, the
tension between « tradition » and « modernity » has always been seen
as the great theme of African literature. Today, language has
shifted, and there are intellectual clashes in Senegal and elsewhere
about the value of l’enracinement and le
cosmopolitanisme. Are these dichotomies real?

We will read Karim (1935) and Un chant écarlate (1981)
(with a dash of Senghor and Sembène) to see how traditional rituals
of identity, love and courtship are racialized and politicized in
the moment of decolonization; then we will turn to Les contes
d’Amadou Koumba (1947) to observe how the “humble” traditional
tale also bears witness to an historical and ever-present métissage,
to history and ethnicity (as opposed to an abstract universalism à
la Aesop), and hints at deconstructionist principles that Derrida
will make famous. In L’Aventure ambiguë (1960) and Le
ventre de l’Atlantique (2003), we shall observe two compelling
(and contradictory) meditations on Afro-European (Euro-African?)
identity. Finally, in the “postmodernist” film Hyènes (1992),
inspired by the Dürrenmatt play, and the polyphonic novel of the
Rwandan genocide, Murambi (2000), both about violence in
contemporary “Third World” communities, we shall consider the
relationship of such communities to the global order. In the month
of April, Boubacar Boris Diop, author of Murambi and the most
prominent novelist in Senegal today, will participate in our class.

This look at Senegalese literature will enable us to think about the
key issues in the study of “African,” “postcolonial,” “Francophone”
literatures, as they are called: terminology, periodization,
nationalism, sites of writing, gender, shifting esthetics, and the
stakes in critical approaches to these literatures, such
as “postmodernism” and “nativsim.”