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Recasting urgence: Algerian francophone literature after the 'décennie noire'

Ford, Joseph Vincent (2016) Recasting urgence: Algerian francophone literature after the 'décennie noire'. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis explores contemporary Algerian francophone literary production during and after what is widely known as the ‘décennie noire’ in Algeria, also called the ‘Algerian Civil War’ of the 1990s, and a period of intense violence during which up to 200,000 people are reported to have been killed. The research sits between a literary and sociological approach (equating, in broad terms, to the study of the world in the text and that of the text in the world) and has a main corpus of living writers, published between Paris and a blossoming francophone publishing market in Algiers. It calls on both sociological and literary approaches to think through questions of how the 1990s have been written and read in and between France and Algeria. One of the main concerns of the research is to reconcile the complex relationship between literature as a form of social and political testimony and literature as a creative and aesthetic endeavour that gives a far more open-ended and equivocal account of experience and existence. Split into four sections, the thesis studies this problem in the context of contemporary Algeria through the lens of 'urgence', a term which was employed by the Algerian State (‘état d’urgence’), by publishers, the press and critics (‘écriture de l’urgence’) and finally by Algerian writers. Exploring the emergence of a narrative of 'urgence' principally within what we define as a Franco-Algerian ‘champ littéraire’ during the 1990s, Section One also reviews the wide array of literature on contemporary Algeria in an attempt to show how a set of binary narratives was established which implicitly played into the ‘official story’ of the Algerian State. In a further three sections, the thesis shows, through six detailed case studies of the Algerian francophone writers Maïssa Bey, Salim Bachi, Djamel Mati, Habib Ayyoub, Mustapha Benfodil and Kamel Daoud, how literature published after the ‘end’ of the 1990s has increasingly become a site of creative experimentation for the development of discursive strategies to disrupt and contest the dominant binary narrative structures which frame Algeria from within and from outside. The thesis argues that, more than attempting to represent the period of the ‘décennie noire’, a host of writers has sought to recast the ethical imperative of the 1990s in the discursive realm of literature, beyond previously reductive narrative frames.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Francophone Postcolonial Studies; Francophone Algerian Literature; Algerian Civil War; 'décennie noire'; 'écriture de l'urgence'.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds) > French (Leeds)
Depositing User: Mr Joseph Ford
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2016 09:42
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2016 09:42
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13813

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