Indiana University Bloomington
Department of French and Italian

Oana Panaïté

Oana Panaïté

Associate Professor of French
Director of Graduate Studies, French/Francophone Studies

Office: Ballantine Hall 627
Office phone: 855-1134

Research Areas

20th and 21st French-language writing (France, the Caribbean, North-Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa); literary theory; the poetics and politics of fiction; postcolonial and transfrontier approaches to literature


  • PhD, Romance Literatures and Languages, The Johns Hopkins University, 2005
  • Docteur ès Lettres, U.F.R. de Littérature française et comparée, Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV), 2004


In my first book, Des littératures-mondes en français. écritures singulières, poétiques transfrontalières dans la prose contemporaine (Rodopi Press, Amsterdam/New York, 2012), I analyze contemporary fiction produced by twenty writers from metropolitan France, the French Overseas Departments (e.g. Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Mauritius) and countries formerly under French colonial rule (e.g. Haiti, Algeria, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo) from both a historical and theoretical perspective. My current book project, La fortune coloniale de la littérature française de Gustave Flaubert à Claude Simon, examines the development and institutionalization of literature in France and its colonies from the late 19th century until the present day. Seeking to bridge the gap between metropolitan and non-metropolitan literatures written in French, my research contributes to a more accurate and complete understanding not only of contemporary French-language writing, but also of the fundamental concepts and methods used in the academic evaluation and classification of French literature in general. This ultimately leads to a reappraisal of the ways in which we define and teach what we consider to be "French literature," as well as of the ways in which we establish connections between literature, on the one hand, and national and international history, society and culture, on the other.

My current projects include two monographs:

The Colonial Fortune in Contemporary Fiction in French
Conceived as a continuation of my first book on the aesthetic and poetic traits of French-language fiction today, this study draws on the concepts of commonplace (É. Glissant), survival (W. Benjamin), and debt (É. Méchoulan) to focus on the presence of colonial tropes in contemporary French writing. I show that colonial discourse has generated a set of commonplaces that form a connective tissue between works of writers classified in different categories such as Metropolitan (Laurent Gaudé, Antoine Volodine, and Pierre Michon) and Francophone (Leïla Sebbar and Alain Mabanckou) or “politically committed” (J.-M.G. Le Clézio and Assia Djebar) and “aesthetes” (Claude Simon and Marie NDiaye). Tropes such as the momentous departure for other continents in search of a new life, the colonial debt, mourning for the loss of identity and empathy with the Other permeate contemporary imagination. Their study as the articulation between artistic creation and political thought bridges the gap between the current debates on neo-colonial nostalgia and postcolonial melancholia, on the one hand, and the social and political loss of relevance of the humanities in France, among which literature occupies a central place.

Envers l'écriture. De la lettre morte au tombeau littéraire
An essay dedicated to the paradigm shift in contemporary fiction from narratives of impossibility of literary and even verbal representation generated by a historical trauma such as the Holocaust, slavery, genocide, torture and war (Marguerite Duras, Édouard Glissant, Gérard Étienne, and Linda Lê) to the construction of monumental narratives that reactivate the Renaissance model of the “tombeau littéraire” as defined by Joachim du Bellay in 1559 while rediscovering the possibility of testimony as story-telling (Maryse Condé, Patrick Chamoiseau, Tierno Monénembo, Stéphane Audeguy, and Alexis Jenni).

Selected Publications


Edited Volumes

  • "La Pensée littéraire/The Idea of Literature". Special issue of the journal *L’Esprit créateur. Journal of French and Francophone Studies. Fall 2014. Vol. 54. No 3.
  • Alternative Francophone. Vol. 1, No 7 (2014). Special issue co-edited with Timo Obergöker (University of Chester).
  • Circulating French in the Classroom. Anthology based on a dialogical study of classical and contemporary texts. In progress.
  • Communautés de lecture : pour une approche dialogique des œuvres classiques et contemporaines. Collection of theoretical essays. In progress.


  • "Étrangèreté, non-savoir et écritures transfrontalières : Hélène Cixous, Nina Bouraoui et Leïla Sebbar". *Modern Language Notes. Print. Forthcoming Fall 2014.
  • "Tombeaux littéraires contemporains". Littérature et histoire immédiate. Edited by Yolaine Parisot et Charline Pluvinet. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes. Print. Forthcoming.
  • "Destination, Destiny and Paracolonial Aesthetics in Le Clézio’s Révolutions". SITES: Contemporary French and Francophone Studies. Print. Forthcoming.
  • "Crise du français, impact de la francophonie?". Alternative Francophone. Vol. 1, No 7 (2014). P. 1-11. Web.
  • "La pensée littéraire entre précarité et potentialité". *L’Esprit créateur. Journal of French and Francophone Studies. Fall 2014. Vol. 54. No 3. P. 1-13. Print.
  • "La querelle des bibliothèques ou la gêne de la critique française face à la littérature en français". *Nouvelles Écritures francophones. Vol. 28. No 2. 2013. P. 145-161. Print.
  • "Patrick Chamoiseau et le ‘bâillement’ sans fin de la mémoire créole" in Enjeux identitaires dans l'imaginaire francophone. Edited by Sélom K. Gbanou and Kanaté Dahouda. Trier : WVT Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2013. P. 93-109. Print.
  • "How Not To Speak of Books You Can’t Ignore". *Romance Notes. Vol. 52. No 3. 2012. P. 279-287. Print.
  • "Le retour du contreauteur". Lire contre l'auteur. Edited by Sophie Rabau. Presses Universitaires de Vincennes. 2012. P. 67-85. Print.
  • "'La race des fils'. Atavisme fictif et autorité littéraire". L'Autorité en littérature. Exercice, partage, contestation. Edited by Emmanuel Bouju. Presses Universitaires de Rennes. 2010. P. 211-221. Print.
  • "Poétiques de récupération, poétiques de créolisation". *Littérature nº 151 (3/2008). P. 52-74. Print.


  • "Réécrire, désécrire : les textes contemporains et la tradition littéraire"
  • "The Colonial Fortune: Literature, Education, and Ideology in Early 20th Century France"
  • "The French Exception"
  • "Scandalous Books"
  • Êtres de papier. Le personnage littéraire au XXe siècle
  • The Trouble with Literature. Issues in Literary Theory
  • The Politics of Writing from Franz Fanon to édouard Glissant
  • Les Femmes dans la littérature française
  • Voyages et aventures
  • La littérature et les arts dans l'œuvre de Patrick Chamoiseau

Honors, Fellowships, and Awards

  • Chaire des Amériques Visiting Professor. Institut des Amériques. Université de Haute-Bretagne – Rennes 2. Fall 2013
  • US Representative Member of the Executive Board (Conseil d'Administration) of Conseil International d'Études Francophones (CIÉF). Elected to a three-year term. 2010-2013
  • "Memory and Civic Contention" Fellowship. Center for the Study of History and Memory. Indiana University. 2012-2013
  • College Arts and Humanities Institute Travel Research Grant. Indiana University. 2012
  • Prix de la Francophonie des Amériques (Best Presentation Award). Conseil International des Études Francophones et Centre de la Francophonie des Amériques. New Orleans. June 2009
  • College Arts and Humanities Institute Faculty Fellowship. Indiana University
  • Arts & Humanities New Perspectives Grant. Indiana University
  • Research Fellowship at école des Hautes études en Sciences Sociales (Paris). Johns Hopkins University
  • Pensionnaire roumaine de l'école Normale Supérieure (rue d'Ulm)