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Felisa Vergara Reynolds

Profile picture for Felisa Vergara Reynolds

Office Hours

SPRING 2024: M-2:00-4:00 (VIA ZOOM)
Please schedule appointments through Calendly link (top of page)

All appointments are via Zoom
Associate Professor

Research Interests

  • 20th and 21st Century Literature in French, from former French colonies and the French-speaking world
  • Special concentration on the French Caribbean
  • Interests in West Africa and North Africa
  • Post-colonial theory and analysis

Research Description

Listen to an interview I did on The Author as Cannibal for the Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy! https://open.spotify.com/episode/1yfB2Zw4YcjMLVwCK9Lgs7?si=be600359cb3343bb

The Author as Cannibal: Rewriting in Francophone Literature as a Post-Colonial Genre (1969-1995) (University of Nebraska Press, 2022) shows how in the first decades after the end of French rule, Francophone authors engaged in an exercise of rewriting narratives from the colonial literary canon. In The Author as Cannibal, I present these textual revisions as figurative acts of cannibalism and examines how these literary cannibalizations critique colonialism and its legacy in each author’s homeland. I focus on four representative texts: Une tempête (1969) by Aimé Césaire, Le temps de Tamango (1981) by Boubacar Boris Diop, L’amour, la fantasia (1985) by Assia Djebar, and La migration des coeurs (1995) by Maryse Condé. Though written independently in Africa and the Caribbean, these texts all combine critical adaptation with creative destruction in an attempt to eradicate the social, political, cultural, and linguistic remnants of colonization long after independence.

The Author as Cannibal situates these works within Francophone studies, showing that the extent of their postcolonial critique is better understood when they are considered collectively. Crucial to the book are two interviews with Maryse Condé, which provide great insight on literary cannibalism. By foregrounding thematic concerns and writing strategies in these texts, I show how these re-writings are an underappreciated collective form of protest and resistance for Francophone authors.

Praise for The Author as Cannibal:

“Felisa Vergara Reynolds sheds an exciting light on Francophone literature. Her work brilliantly displays the common movement originated by authors who subvert the colonial lens by using its codes and transform them into the tools of its critique.”—Rokhaya Diallo, French journalist, writer, filmmaker, and activist for racial, gender, and religious equality
 
“Felisa Vergara Reynolds’s impressive postcolonial reading of the author as cannibal strategically locates literary rewriting as a political form of protest, resistance, and reappropriation. . . . From rewriting and reclaiming the historical record to the inscription of subjectivity through the privileging of formerly marginalized perspectives to reversing the power dynamic intrinsic to the Eurocentric gaze, Reynolds peels back the veil of colonial ‘camouflage’—with its histories of domination, exclusion, and misrepresentation—to denounce colonial authoritarianism and reveal a set of counternarratives that imbue the formerly colonized with agency and the right to self-representation.”—H. Adlai Murdoch, author of Creolizing the Metropole: Migrant Caribbean Identities in Literature and Film

Education

  • PhD, Harvard University
  • MA, Rice University
  • BA, Rice University

Courses Taught

  • FR 156 Exploring Paris
  • FR 210 Introduction to French Literature II
  • FR 211 Introduction to Literary Studies
  • FR 319 Francophone Worlds-Survey of foundational theory and literature in French from former colonies
  • FR 323 Undergraduate Single Author Focus-Maryse Condé
  • FR 324 Literature and Other Arts-Survey of foundational Cinema in French from former colonies
  • FR 336 French Cultural History 1789-1968
  • FR 479 Studies in Francophonie-Advanced survey of foundational theory and literature in French from former colonies
  • FR 576 Graduate Seminar-Maryse Condé
  • FR 579 Graduate Seminar-Colonization on film

Recent Talks:

"René Maran’s Un Homme pareil aux autres: or racism on the high seas." Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies Annual Conference, London, UK, November 2023

“Maryse Condé reimagines the Messiah, as cultural phenomenon, in the 21st century.” 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium. Tucson, AZ, April, 2023

“Nostalgies Coloniales et des hontes inavouables: Discoveries in French-Algerian Archives.” Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies Annual Conference, London, UK, November 2022

On re-writing the literary canon.” Diversity, Decolonization and the French Curriculum Conference. Virtual, November, 2022

“Black bodies and French Colonial History: Beyoncé and Jay Z’s Apeshit at the Louvre.” The African Literature Association. Virtual, May, 2022

“David Diop’s Frère d’Ame: on French Universalism and a Post-Colonial Reckoning of WW1.” 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium. Pittsburgh, PA, March, 2022

“Minority Identities Amidst an Oppressive Universalisme: The Role of the Podcast Kiffe ta Race in France.” Contemporary French Civilizations Intersections Conference, Virtual, September 2021

“Combatting Censorship on film: Euzhan Palcy's A Dry White Season and Raoul Peck's Lumumba. The African Literature Association. Virtual, May, 2021

“The place and role of the Storyteller in the transmission of knowledge in Africa.” with Roukiatou Bâ, Founding Director of the Amadou Hampâté Bâ Foundation Center for African Studies, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign. October 21, 2020.

“Portraits by the colonized: Independence on film.” Center for African Studies, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign. April 22, 2020.

Recent Publications

“Black bodies and French Colonial History: Beyoncé and Jay Z’s Apeshit at the Louvre.” Journal of European Popular Culture. (2024): 14.2, 157-164

“Minority identities amidst an oppressive universalisme: The role of the podcast Kiffe ta Race in France.” Contemporary French Civilization-Intersections. (2023): 2:1, 29-44

“The Politics of Colonization in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther.” Black Camera : An International Film Journal. (2023): 14:2 ,172-184

“Maryse Condé’s La vie sans fards: Cahier d’un retour au pays natal? ” Bulletin of Francophone Postcolonial Studies. Liverpool: Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies (2022) 12.2/13.1

“Maryse Condé’s taste for history, tales in triptych.” JALA, Journal of the African Literature Association (2016): 9.2, 3-14

“Aristotle and Zazie.” Modern Philology (2016): 113.4

“Khatibi as Derrida’s Foil: Undermining the Last Defender of the French Language.” Contemporary French & Francophone Studies: Sites (2014): 18.2

“René Maran, Forgotten Father of the Francophone Novel.” JALA, Journal of the African Literature Association (2013): 55-65