Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Nomadic Impulses, De-centered Bodies: Female Agency and Corporeality in the Cinema of French and Francophone Women Directors (1962-2007).

    Author:
    Viral Bhatt
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Francesca Sautman
    Abstract:

    This project is about female corporeal agency, but it is also about identity, sexuality, desire and gender. It is about balancing feminist theory alongside the filmic text in a way that is not reductive to either medium. What I have learned as I embarked upon this study was that studying corporeality through the filmic medium would and should mean so much more than simply outlining how the female body enters the filmic text. If I were to study the latter it would simply imply indicating that the female body does indeed play a central role. What I have wanted to study and outline is how the female body becomes an agent of change in the filmic medium I have selected. As a result, each of my chapters is thematically oriented so that films are not grouped with respect to their countries of origin but often oriented towards the creative expression of the body such as embroidery, singing and or dance. In engaging the question of the female body it became tantamount to survey feminist theories from around the world so that the theories from the so-called First World and Third World would be part of the dialogue. Therefore, Chapter 1 offers readings and interpretations of those feminist theories from both the Western world and the "Third World" that have informed my understanding of critical points of inquiry in my study and my own development as a feminist. These comprise of sex, gender, desire, sexuality, culture, tradition and custom. The theoreticians whose works I analyze and with whom I enter into dialogue include but are not limited to: Luce Irigaray, Monique Wittig, Judith Butler, Uma Narayan and Chandra Talpade Mohanty. Additionally, in Chapter 2, in my development of The Nomad, conceived from Rosi Braidotti and her theoretical musings, I also involve the theories, amongst others, of Judith Butler and Gloria Anzaldua. The Nomadic Impulse and the Nomadic project are thus praxis-minded initiatives derived from the figuration of the Nomad. The impulse and project are thus generated within the viewer, in the need to effect change, and in the realms of future possibility.

  • Into the Woods: Motif-Based Fairy Tale Analysis and the Gendered Aesthetics of French 17th and 18th-Century Women Writers

    Author:
    Christina Buehler
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Francesca Canade-Sautman
    Abstract:

    For such beautiful and often times short stories, fairy tales have inspired diverse analyses from multiple scholars. The studies are as varied as the tales they discuss. There are historical and sociological viewpoints that study both the local culture and mannerisms displayed by the protagonists and the people whom they meet along their journey. The feminist approach looks at the role of women in these tales and how they interact as a group with each other as well as with the female protagonists in their fictional lives. Those who are intrigued by the psychological aspect of fairy tales look to Jung and Freud to fuel their dissection of tale elements. A final approach that is particularly intriguing and not as well studied as one would think is the classic textual analysis of a fairy tale, focusing on motifs. The richness of the visual elements and descriptions in the tales enhances the overall story arc and although the tales are meant to entertain the general population, there are certain areas that beg to be studied in depth. Ultimately the question that needs to be explored is why the author of a fairy tale chooses certain elements to help propel the movement of the story. If one reads enough tales, it becomes apparent that there are certain recurring motifs that are particularly significant in the author's works. These motifs are not haphazardly chosen; they are deliberately selected by the learned fairy tale writers to enhance the tale's overall impact. The recurring motifs found within the literary fairy tale tradition deserve further attention. Upon studying the historical development of the literary fairy tale in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century France, it is clear that the French authors drew much of their ideas from the tale-tellers before them, especially the Italians Straparola and Basile, who were responsible for the first written fairy tales, albeit in their local dialect. These elements and motifs, which were present in the early tales of the Italians, were expanded and enhanced by the French. Although Charles Perrault is the best-known French fairy tale writer, this dissertation focuses on the tales written by the French women, particularly Mme. d'Aulnoy. These conteuses deserve more than a second glance, as their tales are rich with beautiful prose and great detail. Therefore, the first half of this dissertation will look at the historical development of the tale in France, demonstrating a clear connection between the Italian tale-tellers and their French counterparts. The second part of this study will be a textual analysis of select tales by the conteuses showcasing the unique sensitivity and viewpoint that they brought to their tale-telling.

  • Émergences du 17 octobre 1961 dans le texte contemporain

    Author:
    Chadia Chambers-Samadi
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Francesca Canadé-Sautman
    Abstract:

    On October 17th 1961, a crowd of North-Africans demonstrates against a racist curfew. A decree from The Paris Chief of Police, Maurice Papon forbids the free circulation of North Africans or Arabs at dawn, at the pinnacle of the Algerian struggle for independence. Children, women and men are urged to leave their suburban ghettos and gather in Paris Intra-Muro by the the FLN (National Liberal Front), a political group claiming independence for the French Departments we now know as Algeria. The night of October 1961 is deadly and many bodies of Algerians are thrown in the "Seine" River in Paris. More than 10 000 North African civilians are arrested and gathered in suburban stadiums for days. It is unclear today how many people lost their lives to the French police brutality; the estimation varies between 6 and 300. The present study will first analyze the techniques of censorship used by the government to erase the event from the public sphere. The discourse on October 17th 1961 relies on a primary archive: the testimony. I argue that collections of testimonies are used as a medium to craft Collective Memory as theorized by Maurice Halbwachs. This recollection of a forgotten event is drawn through the methodology preconized by Michel Foucault in his Archeology of Knowledge, that is to say a correlation of historical, sociological, political texts in relation to the dense fictional discourse that has been restaging the event and superseding censorship as early as 1962. A survey of thirteen novels written between 1962 and 2009 proves that the state's attempts to govern memories failed. Literary discourses allow me conclude that October 17, 1961 remains an unresolved event. An amnesty covers all crimes committed during the Algerian war for independence, thus, forcing the novels to become a substitution for political action and recognition. France however refuses to acknowledge its responsibility in this event and continues to declare curfews during the riots of the Paris peripheral inhabitants in 2005.

  • LE BÂILLONNEMENT DE LA RÉVOLUTION HAITIENNE DANS L'IMAGINAIRE OCCIDENTAL À TRAVERS DES TEXTES FICTIONNELS DES DIX-NEUVIÈME ET VINGTIÈME SIÈCLES

    Author:
    Claudy Delne
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    THOMAS SPEAR
    Abstract:

    Abstract LE BÂILLONNEMENT DE LA RÉVOLUTION HAÏTIENNE DANS L'IMAGINAIRE OCCIDENTAL À TRAVERS DES TEXTES FICTIONNELS DES DIX-NEUVIÈME ET VINGTIÈME SIÈCLES By CLAUDY DELNE ADVISER: PROFESSOR THOMAS C. SPEAR Inspired by the study of Western historiography and the processes by which silence enters into history in Michel-Rolph Trouillot's seminal work, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History, this dissertation demonstrates that fiction can be used both for silencing the past and for rewriting it. This study focuses on seven novels, one short story and two plays published between 1798 to 2007: Adonis ou le Bon Nègre by Jean-Baptiste Picquenard, L'Habitation de Saint-Domingue ou L'Insurrection by Charles de Rémusat, Benito Cereno by Herman Melville, Les Nuits chaudes du Cap-Français by Hugues Rebell, Drums at Dusk by Arna Bontemps, Le Royaume de ce monde (El reino de este mundo) by Alejo Carpentier, Monsieur Toussaint by Edouard Glissant, and the trilogy of the historical novel (Le SouleÌvement des âmes, Le Maître des carrefours, La Pierre du bâtisseur) by Madison Smartt Bell. Building upon the works of Paul Ricoeur and Hayden White for whom historical and fictional narratives have more in common than they diverge, this dissertation shows how diverse narrative techniques in fictions representing the Haitian Revolution participate in the silencing of this Revolution, one of the most significant events of the Enlightenment that has left a legacy of centuries of ramifications upon world history. This study reads fiction in a manner analogous to historical works, rewriting history. It examines a representative corpus of fictional texts through a close analysis of point of view, characters, tropes, metaphors and emplotments. This study explores the way in which writers of fiction use a variety of narrative techniques to represent the Revolution as an unthinkable event. It also shows how fiction can be not only history's ally, but also an effective medium for revisiting predominant views of the official version of the historical past.

  • The World Errant and the Creolization of Africa

    Author:
    Katherine Galvagni
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Edouard Glissant
    Abstract:

    Abstract The World Errant and the Creolization of Africa By Katherine Farley Galvagni Adviser: Edouard Glissant This dissertation demonstrates how Glissant's theory of Relation is imagined within the contemporary African novel. Particular attention has been paid to novels by Abdourahman A. Waberi and Fatou Diome which highlight themes of errantry, migration, identity and belonging. These examples provide awareness for Glissant's theory and his oeuvre. This theory is applied as a counter discourse to hegemonic forces of globalization and zenophobia that are described within the narratives, and also as a means to respond to the need, or calling, to subvert archaic views of Africa, views that are articulated by Mudimbe in his theoretical work on the Western will to power that have traditionally controlled Africa from a Western perspective. According to Glissant, the theory of Relation cannot be proven, thus to claim to provide evidence of his theory is disingenuous. However, the theory of Relation is a sense of multicultural belonging that lives in the imaginary and is in the process of becoming. Glissant explains that although Relation lives in the imaginary, creolization lives in the réel. This world in creolization is the Tout-Monde and it is expressed here as the world errant, a world unabashed by walls and borders. An annual literay festival, The Time of the Writer, taking place in Durban, South Africa is in its eleventh year. Glissant's attendance at the first festival, and the subsequent attendance of many contemporary African writers within the past decade, provides a point of departure with which to measure the growth of the Tout-Monde on the African continent. Finally, this dissertation takes the example of Congo music, Soukous in particular, to describe how creolization is taking place on the African continent. Congo music adds a new dimension to a traditional literary application of Glissant's theory. The analysis of the creolization process that brought African rhythm first to the Caribbean, then back to Africa, and finally into the Tout-Monde, as an element of the new genre, World Beat, is an indispensable one in creating an encompassing view from inside Africa, as a continent whose participation in the Tout-Monde can now be recognized.

  • Growing Old With Dignity: Women in Francophone Literature of the Caribbean

    Author:
    Charlotte Gertz
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Lucienne Serrano
    Abstract:

    This dissertation proposes to study the role of older women in the literature emanating from Haiti, Guadeloupe, and Martinique during the latter half of the twentieth century and the early years of the twenty-first century. The focus is on how the older woman attains the status of Dignity as a result of the strength and fortitude she displays in resisting the assaults inflicted upon her mental and physical persona. She is able to rise above her contemporaries in spite of the struggles which she had to endure before attaining that esteemed goal. Few literary accounts disclose the continuing recital of humiliation and degradation suffered by older women in the era of slavery and the periods of colonization and postcolonialism. Authorship was male-dominated among the few who had literary skills. The women's voices were muffled; they could neither read nor write in the language of the Other. They depended on oral history and collective memory to tell their descendents the stories of pain and subjugation they suffered. The Emancipation Proclamation, described by Professor Glissant as une cérémonie vide , resulted in spite of its short-comings, to encourage some women to take the initiative and loosen the fetters of silence. They became the voice for their less vocal sisters. The literature included in this thesis, compounded of fact and imagination, reflects the beliefs and aspirations of a vital segment of society waiting to be heard. The tales told begin with part myth, part fact and then gradually evolve into the story of a people. The methodology employed is an examination of novels, essays, and critical works to assess the basic ideology of a whole segment of bruised humanity. The novels discussed act as messages from the women who wished to give credence to their silent history. They are written in French, the prescribed language of the Francophone communities, even though many references are made to Creole, the language dear to the heart of the people. Although this dissertation is seamlessly integrated, it is divided into separate chapters using the literary works as fruitful sources: "Oral History," deals with the probable past as interpreted by the teller. When based on "Collective Memory", the story is often fused with personal adaptation. The illness and triumph of the ageing process accent the respect one earns after reaching un certain âge, but it also deals with the debilitating affects of sickness which often accompany old age. "Language and Religion" are two factors which are inextricably woven into basic structures of human society. The secret language of the African slaves and their inherited religion sustained them during their tempestuous mode of survival. "Color-Coded Determinism" deals with a woman who is thwarted in her life's activities because of the color of her skin. She relieves her frustrations and captures her self-identity in the act of writing her intimate thoughts in a journal. "Sexual Abuse" is a major factor in causing women to lose their self-esteem, dignity and family values. Gender is introduced as a social concern rather than a biological phenomenon. "Postcolonialism" is the chapter that demonstrates the after-effects of slave rule. Poverty, hunger, and inadequate living conditions still prevail, but there is hope for the future generation, sustained by the mothers and the grandmothers who sacrifice their own well-being to further the education and social ascension of their offspring.

  • La Creolisation et l'Africanite dans la litterature francophone: Afrique et les Antilles.

    Author:
    Fallou Gueye
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Fallou Gueye
    Abstract:

    Creolization and Africanité in Francophone literature: Africa and the Caribbean This thesis examines the ways theories of creolization impact the current crisis of identities in the context of globalization. The focus is on contemporary Francophone West Africa. Edouard Glissant's theory of identities in particular is examined in great detail, as it claims to be at once universal and opposed to previous forms of analysis such as the Negritude movement that had viewed identity as essentially related to race, culture or African origin. Hence, the purpose of this thesis is to explore how creolization theory is relevant to the quest of identity for Africans and to provide an evaluation and critique of its effectiveness. My corpus consists of French and Francophone literary and philosophical texts of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries but also draws on post-colonial studies, and on theories of race and cultural hybridity. Human participants are not involved in my research.

  • Henri-Gabriel Ibels: Fanfare for the Working Man

    Author:
    Gorica Hadzic
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Francesca Sautman
    Abstract:

    This dissertation concerns the work of the artist Henry-Gabriel Ibels (1867-1936), and examines why, having been a founding member of the Nabis, an avant-garde group of painters active in the nineteenth century in Paris, having made major inroads in developing the relationship between art and text in modern terms, and having attained significant acclaim in his day, Ibels became, in subsequent decades, a virtual unknown. This neglect was so patent that contemporaries with whom he worked, like André Antoine, completely erased his role from the record and even attributed his work to others. I examine his important contribution to the artistic culture of his time in relation to the twists and turns of his public fame, and argue that it was largely because of his consistently leftist politics, that marked many of his artistic choices, that he was thus isolated from his original affinity group, the Nabis, and almost cut out of their history. Ibels's contemporaries enjoyed his art and his talent almost on a daily basis, and critics compared his rare attention to life and movement to that of the great masters, Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt, as well as to his contemporaries Daumier and Degas. This shows that Ibels's contemporaries were responsive to his aesthetics and recognized that his art was representative of the new visual perspective that proved to be as significant in its own time as any other intellectual manifestation. This dissertation examines numerous articles and mentions which prove that Ibels's contemporaries also recognized his ideological and artistic contributions to the art of painting, poster design, theater, and caricature, as well as the fact that succeeding in all of these genres is reserved to only a few of the greatest talents.

  • The Obscene Bachelor: Humor and Horror in Guy de Maupassant's Writings

    Author:
    Benjamin Hamilton
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Julia Przybos
    Abstract:

    Guy de Maupassant's fictional works present a caravan of characters of a rare eclecticism: unhappily married women, privileged single men, hardy peasants, urban prostitutes and some indomitable free spirits. Such a range of characters distinguishes his fiction from that of his contemporaries, including the naturalists. Yet Maupassant's social and professional life was also different. A lifelong bachelor, he eschewed notions of marriage and family, reveling in a bachelor milieu that was parts bourgeois, bohemian and libertine. This dissertation seeks to approach Maupassant's own bachelor milieu as an important factor -- and marker -- in his fictional imaginary. His bachelor cosmos, with its many erotic and worldly aspects, will also be explored and analyzed.

  • Global Wreckage and Consumer Illusions: Responses to the Human Effects of Economic Globalization in Sub-Saharan African Francophone Novels and Films, 1973-2006

    Author:
    Sara Hanaburgh
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    French
    Advisor:
    Francesca Sautman
    Abstract:

    My study examines a group of nine novels and films set in Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal, Cameroon and Gabon written and produced between 1973 and 2006 in which "the West" and its international finance network are depicted as the fundamental contemporary world power that wields a destructive dominance over African countries. These forms of control are in many ways similar, yet distinct, from the projects of European imperialism. I analyze consumerism as a major feature of globalization, and discuss the linkage of globalization and the consumer society by looking at various theoretical models, in particular that which Jean Baudrillard conceptualized as a stand-in for democracy. I also consider the connection between globalization and imposed cultural uniformity, which African novels and films denounce as promoting a system of cultural superiority and submission. Further, the most extreme effects of globalization reinforce notions of a sexualized, racialized or ethnicized other. In response authors and filmmakers bring out themes such as migration/immigration, the objectification of the body--particularly of women--and the eruption of communal violence. Visual imagery in the novel and silence and voice in film are exemplary of how the two media create a common response that resists contemporary globalization. The dissertation thus examines what has emerged as one set of issues with which writers and filmmakers engage in their reflections on and responses to globalization.