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Singular Performances

Reinscribing the Subject in Francophone African Writing
Michael Syrotinski
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BUY Cloth · 224 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813921440 · $65.00 · Nov 2002
BUY Paper · 224 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813921457 · $23.50 · Nov 2002

Francophone African writing is often concerned with questions of subjectivity and narrative agency, and it is this focus Michael Syrotinski takes as his point of departure in Singular Performances. Using the work of V. Y. Mudimbe as a major theoretical reference, Syrotinski sets up a number of original dialogues between francophone African literature, African philosophy, literary theory, postcolonial studies, cinema, cultural studies, and history to arrive at the notion of a "performative reinscription of subjectivity."

Singular Performances covers a wide range of francophone African writers, each of whom is read within a broader theoretical context related to African subjectivity: Mudimbe and the philosophical subject, Aoua Kéita and autobiography, Bernard Dadié and ethnographic irony, Ousmane Sembene and Tierno Monénembo and the cinematic imagination, Véronique Tadjo and Werewere Liking and the female writing subject, and Sony Labou Tansi and the "spectral" subject.

In this skillful interdisciplinary weaving together of contemporary theory and literature, the focus on the francophone African subject allows for a richer appreciation of the texture and rhetoric of the language of the texts themselves. What emerges from this study is the subject understood not as a single homogenized entity but as a plural celebration of singular francophone African subjectivities.

Reviews:


One of the refreshing aspects of Singular Performances is that, in addition to its depth, it covers an extraordinary historical breadth, from Dadié’s forgotten Climbié to Monénembo’s Cinéma, while offering stunningly new readings of the established ‘classics’ along the way.

Aliko Songolo, University of Wisconsin, Madison

About the Author: 

Michael Syrotinski, Reader in French and Francophone Studies at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, is the author of Defying Gravity: Jean Paulhan’s Interventions in Twentieth-Century French Intellectual History and coeditor of Sensual Reading: New Approaches to Reading in Its Relations to the Senses.

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