UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Le transculturel romanesque africain contemporain Fotsing Fondjo, Luc


My thesis examines the concept of the transcultural in the contemporary African novel, specifically in Le Cavalier et son ombre (1997) by Boubacar Boris Diop, Cinéma (1997) by Tiermo Monénembo, Le lys et le flamboyant (1997) by Henri Lopes and Rue Félix-Faure (2005) by Ken Bugul. I define the transcultural as the diverse novelistic operations of appropriation or re-appropriation, interpretation or reinterpretation, as well as the borrowing of cultural signs from many different places. The transcultural thus elucidates the way in which the contemporary African novel positions itself within a conceptual space of buzzing cultural activity. Yet critics often insist on the difference and identity of African fiction and consign it to a unique status that can only amount to exclusion and discrimination. I use critical concepts such as Marc Angenot’s acceptability, Jean-Marc Ela’s bricolage and indocility, Giorgio Agamben’s exception, and Greimas and Meschonnic’s sign to emphasize the transgressive value of the transcultural option adopted by the novels studied. Thus, the novel appears as the locus of multiple crossings: the crossing of micro-narratives that proclaim the end of master narratives; the crossing of genres and of art forms (orality, music, cinema, sculpture, photography); the crossing of discourses. The transcultural seizes the novel and perverts it, turning it into a disparate mixture, because the novel itself is by nature unstable and irresolute. I conclude that the contemporary African novel, while having its frames of reference, nevertheless escapes all attempts at fixing its identity and definition because it is a framework in which generic, cultural, geographic and spatial frontiers break down and cease to present any clear configuration. The contemporary African novel increasingly constitutes itself in the fluctuating interstices of space and of literary and artistic genres, all of which writers continue to appropriate and re-appropriate.

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