French and Italian | Littérature du Sénégal d’hier et d’aujourd’hui
F667 | 27298 | 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.”