The rebellious female body: L'autre, autobiography, violence and rhizome subjectivities --- A contemporary textual study of postcolonial transgressional women's writings

Gladys M Francis, Purdue University


This doctoral thesis examines the emergence of a postcolonial, revolutionary female voice in Francophone literature. It explores the representations of the rebellious rhizomatic suffering-female body; through the use of an interdisciplinary approach convoking colonial, contemporary and scientific texts, as well as art works of the Avant Garde, Western feminists’ critic works, autobiographical and filmic texts. Finally, this doctoral thesis investigates Gabonese literary texts as seen in selected works of Justine Mintsa and Angèle Rawiri. The works analyzed in this study present female characters whose bodies are violated by patriarchal societies and by women themselves, as these complex female characters try to overcome traditional and modern demands of male-centered cultures. This work highlights the socio-political misplacements of the suffering-female-body, focusing on the primacy of female desires and pleasure. This study argues that transgressional women’s writing marks the presence of alterity in identity and reveals the performative body as a space of violence. In so doing, the heterogeneous dialogues merging from the suffering-female-body are analyzed through a vigorous examination revealing that the performative body serves to challenge concepts of the world by heightening the awareness of the oppressive structures within it. Additionally, this study centers on the female character and her new relations to the “other” representations of female subjectivity (as a sterile mother, a prostitute etc.). In this manner, are illustrated and analyzed, the ways in which she reaffirms or discovers her desires and finds new ways to adapt or reconfigure herself in the in-betweeness space. Exploring the dualistic relationship encountered on writings by Gabonese women vis-à-vis the African tradition in literature and their reception or exclusion within the mainstream frameworks, it is argued that Mintsa and Rawiri destroy boundaries through the use of a polyphonic and polysemous narrative strategies (since a word or phrase has multiple related meanings). Moreover, is observed the manners in which polyphonic narration (for instance film as text), create difficulties due to the risk of misinterpreting, misunderstanding, and devaluing multiple and multilayered voices in popular critiques. It is argued that the unveiled taboos represented by those narratives demystify the traditional perceptions of female space by serving as counter-discursive agents to the monologist canon through (re)domestications and re-narrations. This thesis theoretical framework borrows from interdisciplinary methods and approaches, theoretical praxis from women/social studies, literature, religion, visual and performing arts, and postcolonial feminist studies, to name a few. ^




Antonio D. Tillis, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Literature, Comparative|Literature, African|Women's Studies

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