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Transfigurations of the Maghreb

Transfigurations of the Maghreb: Feminism, Decolonization, and Literatures

Winifred Woodhull
Copyright Date: 1993
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Transfigurations of the Maghreb
    Book Description:

    Through readings of some of the best-known texts in Algerian literature in French, Woodhull both challenges the separation between French and Francophone literatures and cultures in the academy and explores the ways in which “femininity” has been represented in the texts of North African and French writers since the mid-1950s.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8426-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xxiv)

    Tunisian poet Amina Saïd’s evocation of a “lost name that celebrates every shore” is inscribed in a practice of unnaming close to that of Moroccan writer and theorist Abdelkebir Khatibi, who promotes the production of a “plural” Maghreb freed from unitary, theological notions of national and cultural identity.¹ For Khatibi, the effort to pluralize the Maghreb is synonymous with decolonization, a process requiring a double critique of Arab-Islamic institutions and culture on the one hand, and of the universalizing, colonizing dynamics of Western metaphysics on the other. In his account, decolonization of the Maghreb through a process of unnaming is...

  5. Chapter 1 Recasting the Colonial Gaze
    (pp. 1-49)

    Gender and sexuality as key forces in the ongoing negotiation of national and cultural identities are a central concern in cultural studies in the United States and are beginning to attract attention in French studies as well, particularly in work focusing on the situation of racial and ethnic minorities in France and on relations between France and its former colonies. It is obvious that in the texts of widely read Maghrebian writers such as Abdelkebir Khatibi, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Nabile Farès, Mohammed Dib, and Assia Djebar, women’s negotiation of these identities in both the Maghrebian and French contexts is a...

  6. Chapter 2 Wild Femininity and Historical Countermemory
    (pp. 50-87)

    Mohammed Dib’sWho Remembers the Sea(1962) marks a turning point in the history of Algerian literature written in French, for like Pablo Picasso’sGuernica, Dib’s novel powerfully evokes the horror of war and its wrenching effects on subjectivities and the social body without relying on a realist aesthetic, which, in Dib’s estimation, would probably render suffering and change banal.¹ Of course, Kateb’sNedjmahad already revolutionized Algerian writing nearly a decade earlier, breaking with the ethnographic literature of Mouloud Feraoun, Mouloud Mammeri, and indeed Dib himself inLa Grande Maison(1952), the first volume of the Algerian trilogy that...

  7. Chapter 3 Exile
    (pp. 88-133)

    In French studies, the termexile, like its companionnomadism, refers to an array of political and cultural concerns whose interconnections need to be rethought in relation to the tensions that have developed, particularly in the last decade, within an ethnically diverse French nation. The conflicts within and between racial, ethnic, and national groups in France call for a critical reexamination of the uses to which tropes of exile and nomadism have been put in poststructuralist theories, and suggest ways to revise the reading of texts by and about France’s cultural others.

    It is instructive in this regard to consider...

  8. Chapter 4 Out of France
    (pp. 134-196)

    In the margin of the entry “ravishment” from which my epigraph is taken, Barthes cites the Algerian scholar Tahar Labib Djedidi, noting that “in Arabic, for instance,fitnarefers to both material (or ideological) warfare and the enterprise of sexual seduction.”¹ This marginal note in Barthes’s text stands as an emblem of the interconnection, still potent in the French imagination, between the experience of ravishment and that of conquest by the orient, particularly the Maghrebian territories conquered by France in the colonial period. As ravishment is an experience that, according to Barthes, is always feminized and fraught with ambivalence, it...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 197-200)

    Maghrebian writing since the mid-1950s, as well as French writing on the Maghreb and on today’s ethnically diverse French nation, suggests a need to alter the terms of recent debates about cultural politics in which poststructuralist theory is pitted against a return to history and to identitarian politics. On the one hand, poststructuralism is too often dismissed by proponents of historicization as a simple evasion of politics. And on the other, defenders of poststructuralism stubbornly interpret the demand for historicization in reductive terms, claiming that it can only mean a return to the Hegelian understanding of history as a rational...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 201-228)
  11. Index
    (pp. 229-234)
  12. Backmatter
    (pp. 235-235)