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Valérie K. Orlando

The Algerian New Novel: The Poetics of a Modern Nation, 1950-1979 (University of Virginia Press, 2017)

 

This book argues that the avant-garde, experimental forms of the French new novel of the mid-20th century allowed for new means through which to contextualize Algerian identity and conceptions of time and history which had been compromised and interrupted by French colonialism. By virtue of its purely unstructured form, the new novel afforded new ways of conceiving narrative modes that could accommodate points of reference that were not French, but Algerian. As the colonial system was collapsing, what amounted to challenging novelistic convention in France was transformed into the awakening of political and social consciousness and the expression of national identity across Algeria. 

 

 New African Cinema (Rutgers University Press, "Quick Takes" Series, 2017)

 

This book concentrates on the pressing socio-cultural, economic, and historical issues explored by African filmmakers in the new millennium. The films discussed reflect the historical and social contexts and issues of Africa from which leading African filmmakers have emerged in the 2000s. It offers a brief overview of the development of postcolonial African cinema as it has evolved since the 1960s into the vibrant medium, known as “New African cinema,” it is today. The book analyzes the diverse, yet particularly, African themes that are evident in the work of filmmakers from the continent such as Ousmane Sembène (Moolaadé, Senegal, 2005), Abderrahmane Sissako Timbuktu, Mali, 2014),  Taye Diggs (Drum, South Africa, 2004), Moussa Sène Absa (The Sacrifice, Senegal, 2010),  Nabil Ayouch (What Lola Wants, Morocco, 2007), Raja Amari (Red Satin, Tunisia, 2002), Zézé Gamboa (The Hero, Angola, 2004), among others. Published in Rutgers’s University Press “Quick Takes” Series, the primary goal of the book is to offer a short, cogent analytical approach to a wide-variety of films by auteurs from the continent. The book is ideal for beginning students of African film.

 

Screening Morocco: Contemporary Depictions in Film of a Changing Society (Ohio University Press, 2011)

 

Screening Morocco focuses on Moroccan films produced and distributed from 1999 to the present.  Since 1999 and the death of King Hassan II which ended Les Années de plomb (the Lead Years, 1963-1999), Morocco has transformed, socio-culturally and politically. Encouraged by the more openly democratic climate fostered by young King Mohammed VI (popularly known as “M6”), men and women filmmakers explore the socio-cultural and political debates of their country while also seeking to document the untold stories of a dark past. Films such as Nabyl Ayouch’s Ali Zaoua (1999), Farida Benlyazid’s Casablanca (2002), Nabyl Lahlou’s Tabite or not Tabite (2006), Narjes Nejjar’s Wake up Morocco! (2007), and Ahmed Boulane’s Les Anges de Satan (2007), present to audiences some of today’s most pressing questions and issues in Moroccan society. These include: human rights abuse, the former incarceration of thousands during the Lead Years, the rise of Islamic radicalism, women’s emancipation, poverty and claims for social justice. Such issues make up the fabric of a country that is caught in debate over unanswered questions that persist from its past, while it also strives to plot new strategies for moving forward in the new millennium.



Francophone Voices of the ‘New Morocco’ in Film and Print: (Re)presenting a Society in Transition (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2009)

 

This book focuses on literature, journalism and film produced in Morocco since 1999 which marked the end of the repressive reign of Hassan II known as Les années de plomb (the Lead Years). Encouraged by the more open democratic climate fostered by  King Mohammed VI, men and women authors, journalists, poets, and filmmakers of French expression explore the socio-cultural and political debates of their country. Today literary works, newspapers, magazines, and cinematic productions depict a tolerant and inclusive nation now known as “Le Nouveau Maroc” [The New Morocco]; a country that is seeking the means to come to terms with a violent past, while plotting new strategies for a more democratic future. The work, which is based on research conducted in Morocco while I was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in spring 2007, delves into Moroccan society, exploring how those who produce culture represent a country as it transits from traditionalism to modernity within the conflicted polemics of the post-9/11 world—a world increasingly polarized between Arab/Muslim/East and US-European/Christian/West.



Of Suffocated Hearts and Tortured Souls: Seeking Subjecthood Through Madness in Francophone Women’s Writing of Africa and the Caribbean (Lexington Books, 2003)

 

This book studies the many representations of madness that are portrayed in post-colonial novels by women authors from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal, Cameroon, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Haiti. These regions, specific and unique each in their own way, also share many similarities in how women’s literature has developed in recent years. I compare the literature of these regions as well as the socio-cultural and historical contexts that have shaped it and forced many women into mental instability.  Women francophone novelists of Africa and the Caribbean, much like their Anglo-European sisters (Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath), have often used the madness of their heroines as a symbolic reference point to study and analyze the socio-cultural conditions of their contemporary milieus. Women novelists from Senegal (Mariama Bâ), Haiti (Marie Vieux Chauvet) and Guadeloupe (Michèle Lacrosil and Myriam Warner-Vieyra) are writing within a francophone literary culture that is caught up in ever shifting social realities and constructions that influence feminine identity in the postcolonial era. Women in Africa and the Caribbean, as well as those living in exile, are often ensnared in the pressures of politics, traditional socio-cultural norms, historic events (colonial wars, occupation, and independence revolutions), famine and poverty. I argue in my book that the trope of madness is used to allude to these pressures, functioning as a metaphor to describe the female social condition and feminine alienation that women experience on a daily basis in our the postcolonial era.



Nomadic Voices of Exile: Feminine Identity in Francophone Literature of the Maghreb (Ohio University Press, 1999)

 

The premise of this book focuses on how postcolonial writing has altered perceptions concerning Maghrebian feminine identity since the end of the French-colonial era. The primary authors I discuss in the work -- Tahar Ben Jelloun, Assia Djebar, Malika Mokeddem, Leila Sebbar-- are contemporary and either reside in the Maghreb (Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco) or have had to seek asylum in France because of political persecution. Drawing on both Western and Maghrebi philosophies and theories proposed by Homi K. Bhabha, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Félix Guattari, Abdelkébir Khatibi, Abdelwahab Meddeb, Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, among others, I contend that contemporary authors of Maghrebi Francophone literature situate their writing of and about feminine identity in a “Third Space” of negotiation where they are able to engage, challenge, and reformulate former historical paradigms that have disenfranchised them. As the book demonstrates, more often than not, women seek to contextualize their own postcolonial positions beyond gender-based dialogues in order to explore the changing landscape of the socio-cultural and political spheres of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. Since its publication, Nomadic Voices has been well reviewed and proved useful to scholars and students in a variety of disciplines: Francophone Studies, Women's Studies, Middle East Studies, African Literature and Cultural Studies.



Reimagning the Caribbean: Conversations among the Creole, French, English and Spanish Caribbean (Edited Volume with Dr. Sandra M. Cypess, Lexington Press, 2014)

 

This volume brings together scholars working in different languages—Creole, French, English, Spanish—and modes of cultural production—literature, art, film, music—to suggest how best to model courses that impart the rich, vibrant, and multivalent aspects of the Caribbean in the classroom. Essays focus on discussing how best to cross languages, histories, and modes of discourse. Instead of relying on available paradigms that depend on Westaern ways of thinking, the essays recommend methods to develop a pan-Caribbean perspective in relation to notions of the self, uses of language, gender hierarchies, and ideas of nationhood. Contributors represent various disciplines, work in one of the several languages of the Caribbean, and offer essays that reflect different cadres of expertise. 


Paris and the Marginalized Author: Treachery, Alienation, Queerness, and Exile, (Edited volume with Pamela A. Pears, Lexington Books, 2018)

 

This volume of essays explores what it is that has brought marginalized and often exiled writers, seen as treacherous, alienated, and/or queer by their societies and nations together by way of Paris. Spanning from the inter-war period of the late 1920s to the present millennium, this volume considers many seminal questions that have influenced and continue to shape the realm of exiled writers who have sought refuge in Paris in order to write. Additionally, the volume’s essays seek to define alienation and marginalization as not solely subscribing to any single denominator -- sexual preference, gender, or nationality-- but rather as shared modes of being that allow authors to explore what it is to write from abroad in a place that is foreign yet freed of the constrictions of one’s home space. What makes Paris a particularly fruitful space that has allowed these authors and their writings to cross national, ethnic, racial, religious, and linguistic boundaries for over a century? What is it that brings together writers such as Moroccan Abdellah Taïa, Americans James Baldwin, Richard Wright and, most recently, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Shay Youngblood, Algerian Nabile Farès, Franco-Algerian Leila Sebbar, Canadian Nancy Huston, French Jean Genet and French-Vietnamese Linda Lê? How do their representations and understanding of transgression and marginalization transcend national, linguistic and ethnic boundaries, leading ultimately to revolution, both literary and literal? How does their writing help us to trace the history of Paris as a literary and artistic capital that has been useful for authors’ exploration of the Self, race and home country? These are but a few of the many questions explored in this volume.


 

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