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Welcome to Paroles gelées! The editorial board would like to thank all of those who helped to make our archives available online and facilitate our transition to online publishing. Special recognition goes to Stacey Meeker for her assistance as Publications Director for the Graduate Student Association at UCLA and to Michelle Tu for designing the new Paroles gelées logo. Further acknowledgements to the many students and staff who contributed to this achievement are available in the Spring 2009 issue of Paroles gelées.

Proceedings from the 16th and 17th Graduate Student Conferences in French and Francophone Studies

Issue cover

“Alone Together/Together Alone” and “Spectacle and Spectator: Seeing /Being Seen”


Front Matter

[No abstract]

Quand l'un forme le tout : Expérience individuelle et devoir d'écriture dans L'escalve vieil homme et le molosse

« Je conserve le pas-comprenable de la Pierre et des os. Obsession. […]. Mon frère, lui, attend que j’écrive une histoire caraïbe. ». Genèse supposée de L’esclave vieil homme et le molosse : une pierre, des os et un frère désireux de mettre des mots sur une histoire martiniquaise nébuleuse. Tous ces éléments s’inscrivent alors dans une cohésion individu/collectif dont la chronique de l’esclave vieil homme en devient un enjeu majeur.

A travers la métamorphose esclave/vieil homme, marqueur de parole/écrivain créole, nous nous efforcerons de décrire la manière dont cette expérience devient, par le biais de l’écriture, l’expérience du peuple martiniquais tout entier. Entre imaginaire et volonté de jeter la lumière sur un « conte-fondateur »,  Chamoiseau ouvre la voie à la problématique de la multiplicité des histoires, des cultures et des langages garante d’une créolité affirmée.

Grâce à l’analyse parallèle de la reconnaissance subjective du protagoniste avec l’assertion de l’écrivain créole, nous nous proposerons d’analyser la manière dont, d’un côté, l’histoire individuelle de l’esclave, par « la mise-en-relation » glissantienne, lie et relie l’histoire collective, et de l’autre comment le marqueur de parole en se voulant écrivain créole, se fait le porte-parole de ces peuples disparus.

Oralité et œuvre écrite se font face dévoilant ainsi une œuvre originale où tradition orale et outils de littérature écrite se mêlent et s’entremêlent.  L’auteur seul devant sa page capte la parole volatile du conteur pour signer une œuvre témoin de la pluralité créole. Pour reprendre l’idée de Dominique Chancé sur la souffrance de l’auteur antillais, l’organisation de la parole orale par « les impératifs de l’écrit » participe alors à la création d’un texte authentique, teintée de cet univers créole. Nous verrons que les liens qui unissent esclave, vieil homme et écrivain sont le reflet d’une histoire créole.

L’autographie mareysienne: ou comment séparer les corps pour les rapprocher d’eux-mêmes

My paper seeks to show that early cinema was profoundly indebted to the 19th-century debate on the nihilistic and decadent body (Nietzsche, Rimbaud, Huysmans), and that, in this context, early cinema aimed to galvanize the modern body by bring it back to itself. At the inception of cinematic experiments (around 1882), the French biologist Etienne-Jules Marey tried to address the problem of “decadent” bodies in his discipline. He sought to reenergize what he perceived as a weakened modern body. With the invention of the photographic gun, Marey actualized a new writing technology (cinematography) that would allow to study bodies in their “livingness,” that is, in their movements (kinema). However, as much as cinema was conceptualized as bringing bodies back to themselves, cinematography was at the same time severing bodies from one another. Contrary to Marey's previous graphic method, the principle of cinematography was that it was recording bodies without any contact - it was an autography as François Dagognet noted. With the invention of cinema, Marey made Nietzsche’s dream of a writing of the body in movement come true. French philosophers, starting with Henri Bergson in the late 19th and early 20th century, quickly realized the philosophical importance of cinema and engaged with it specifically rather than in the larger framework of aesthetic theory. They found Marey’s chronophotographic gun menacing. Indeed, for an episteme Marey and Nietzsche considered decadent, the body in movement was seen as a shackle on the mind. According to this decadent discourse, to reach the sphere of truth, ideas, and imagination, one had to keep the the body still, so as to freeze its vital functions, and release the mind (or “the soul”).

Jean-Philippe Toussaint's Slow Flight from Television

Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s La télévision (1997) portrays the efforts of an academic to avoid television while on sabbatical writing his book.  As he struggles to focus his attention on his work, Toussaint’s narrator questions the bodily and social effects of limiting one’s horizon of experience to the televisual, and contrasts his own slow sensual perception to the chaotic hodgepodge of images broadcasting on the television.  For Toussaint, the great loss in televisual culture is not critical thinking or rigorous public discourse, but rather the slow and simple pleasures of the senses: thinking, reading, listening to music, making love, etc.  Whereas all these activities evoke the slow pace of leisure, watching television is an exercise in making sense of images that move faster than the time it takes to process them.  The result is mental and physical fatigue, a negation of the body and its senses, and isolation from the immediate events in one’s local milieu.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that this is a novel set against a televisual horizon of expectations, la Télévision pits the written word against the televised image, distinguishing the slow time of the narrative from the fast pace of TV programming.  The stylistic choice of long, complex sentences, stream of consciousness narration, and emphasis on anthropological places in the description point to a desire to reconnect the reader to his or her body and physical surroundings.  The novel focuses on the ordinary events so often forgotten amid the media preference for the spectacular and the extraordinary.  Toussaint manages to take the book’s reputation as a slow medium and transform it into its strength, proving that what makes novels seem outdated in today’s fast-paced culture may indeed be valuable and essential.

An Elusive Vision: Genesis and Apocalypse in Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein

Le Ravissement de Lol V. Stein, Marguerite Duras’s 1964 novel, tells the tale of Lol V. Stein, a young woman whose fiancé leaves her for another, older woman during a dance, never to return. The character remains shrouded in ambiguity throughout the novel, as another character, Jacques Hold, recounts her tale through a narrative structure interspersed with doubt, multiplicity, and fragmentation. Through a textual genetic comparison of the manuscripts from the novel with the final, published text, this paper argues that the main, eponymous, female character, “Lol”, represents an allegory of the subtractive writing process by which she is created. Simultaneous elements of creation and destruction within the character seem to echo themes of genesis and apocalypse both in the diegesis and meta-textually, suggesting the author’s preoccupation with creating ambiguity in the text. Lol’s presence and absence signals the interactions between the text and the reader, who experiences the lack of details in Lol’s character and description both through the laconic image that the narrator creates and destroys, and the fragmentary experience of the ever-elusive text.

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Performing the Immigrant: The Works of Calixthe Beyala and Fatou Diome

This paper proposes a study of the fictional works of two African women authors in French, Calixthe Beyala and Fatou Diome, and the various ways in which they explore constructions of identity in the transnational individual. Identifying forms are explored in their works in the manipulations of personal appearance, in more “official” representations such as documents and identification papers, and in other individual performances of a certain vision of the “authentic” African immigrant. Special attention will be paid to the figure of the author as a character within each text, and the relation of this particular authorial performance to the writers themselves.

This paper seeks to explore several questions, based on three axes of analysis. First, I investigate the performative nature of identity as demonstrated by characters in these works. What aspects of the performance are particular to the migrant or transnational individual? Second, I examine the intersections of migrant identity and gender. How are performativity and gender related? How is the migrant experience embodied in a gendered individual? Finally, I analyze the image of the writer within each work. Who are the author figures in these texts? How do these characters perform an authorial identity? How do these characters perform an authorial identity, and can these two authors be said to represent authors differently? Using selections of their recent work, this paper will demonstrate how performativity intersects with the contemporary migrant fiction in the texts of Beyala and Diome.