Dear Members of the LLC Francophone Forum,
I am honored to have been nominated by the current members of our executive committee to stand for election to the committee this year.
I am an Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of California, Davis where I teach literature and film from West Africa, the Caribbean, North Africa and France. My research interests are focused on the literary cultures of West Africa from the colonial period to the present. My first book is The Tongue-Tied Imagination: Decolonizing Literary Modernity in Senegal, forthcoming from Fordham University Press in 2019. The book returns to the language question in postcolonial literatures from a fresh perspective. Instead of asking whether language matters, The Tongue-Tied Imagination explores how the language question itself came to matter. Focusing on the case of Senegal, the book investigates the intersection of French and Wolof. Drawing on archival research and an under-studied corpus of novels, poetry, and films in both languages, my book traces the emergence of a politics of language from colonization through independence to the era of neoliberal development. I read the francophone works of well-known authors such as Léopold Senghor, Ousmane Sembène, Mariama Bâ, and Boubacar Boris Diop alongside the more overlooked Wolof-language works with which they are in dialogue. Sections of the project have appeared in Research in African Literatures and PMLA. The essay that appeared in PMLA – “How Mariama Bâ Became World Literature: Translation and the Legibility of Feminist Critique” – was awarded the 2017 Malcolm Bowie Prize from the Society for French Studies.
If elected, I would look forward to working with my colleagues on the executive committee to organize sessions that address a variety of contemporary and historical themes in our field in a comparative perspective. These might include topics such as language politics and the ‘post-francophone’; nationalism, migration, and universalism; ecology and decolonization; memory and the archive. In addition, I would be interested in helping to develop sessions that address the interests and concerns of graduate students in our field.
Thank you for considering my candidacy.
Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies
University of California, Davis
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