Mémoire(s) francophone(s)

In his eponymous book, Michael Rothberg proposes the concept “multidirectional memory” as a framework for rethinking memories of the Holocaust in the era of decolonization. Rothberg’s model, which understands memory as “subject to ongoing negotiation, cross-referencing, and borrowing,” is a direct response to the notion of collective memory as fundamentally competitive in nature or, in Rothberg’s words, as a “zero-sum” game.

This seminar uses Rothberg’s model as a jumping-off point for a wide-ranging conversation about “Francophone Memories” as they are depicted and produced in a selection of novels, feature films, and documentaries.

The corpus, which includes works from Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, the Caribbean, and France, represents a trio of interrelated concerns: lived experiences on the putative “margins” of the Holocaust; entangled discourses and memories related to colonization and WWII; and the residue of these experiences in contemporary, multi-ethnic France.

Ultimately, the seminar seeks to probe the benefits and pitfalls of a “multidirectional” approach to reading memory, and to experiment with other possible models.

In addition to exposing participants to a range of cultural texts, including lesser-known and often under-studied novels and films, the goal of the seminar is to provide a space in which to hone practices of close textual analysis, historicized interpretation, and theoretical engagement.

Authors include Natacha Appanah, Anouar Benmalek, Didier Daeninckx, Michéle Maillet and Boualem Sansal.