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Yasser Elhariry - Pacifist Invasions: Arabic, Translation & the Postfrancophone Lyric

December 1, 2017 - 3:00pm

Lecture - Friday, December 1, 3:00-4:30pm

Location: Nolte Center 229

This talk tells the story of a unique literary and linguistic development: over the past one hundred years and at least since the second French colonial era beginning in 1830, Franco-Arab writers have been denaturing the monolingual fabric of French by drawing on the rich history of classical Arabic literature—the qasida, Sufi lyric, and the muwashshahat. Against the backdrop of the Négritude poets and the era of global decolonization, Yasser Elhariry describes what happens to the francophone lyric in the translingual Arabic context. Countering the hegemony of the novel, and the market-driven desire to publish novels and migration stories in Paris, he draws on lyric theory, comparative poetics, and linguistics in order to demonstrate how Arabic literature and Islamic scripture pacifically invade French in the poetry of Habib Tengour (Algeria), Edmond Jabès (Egypt), Salah Stétié (Lebanon), Abdelwahab Meddeb (Tunisia), and Ryoko Sekiguchi (Japan). Through a series of detailed close readings, he reveals the generic modes at play in translating Arabic poetics into the French-language lyric, and the mechanisms by which poets foreignize French, as they engage in a translational and intertextual relationship with the history and world of Arabic literature. He concludes with the outline of a cross-cultural literary history and rereading of French and francophone literature in relation to the transversal translations and transmissions of classical Arabic poetics. The vision of the postfrancophone founds a new, polyphonic semantics within the French poetic idiolect, with wide-ranging and surprising implications for the study of French and francophone poetry.  It offers a translingual, comparative repositioning of the field of francophone postcolonial studies along a fluid, translational Franco-Arabic axis.

Yasser Elhariry is Assistant Professor of French at Dartmouth College. He is the author of Pacifist Invasions: Arabic, Translation & the Postfrancophone Lyric (Liverpool University Press, 2017), and guest editor of the special of issue of Expressions maghrébines on Cultures du mysticisme (Winter 2017). He is the coeditor of a collection of essays on the modern Mediterranean titled Critically Mediterranean: Temporalities, Aesthetics & Deployments of a Sea in Crisis, forthcoming in Palgrave’s Mediterranean Perspectives series in February 2018. His essay, ‘Abdelwahab Meddeb, Sufi Poets & the New Francophone Lyric’ (2016), was awarded the Modern Language Association’s 53rd Annual William Riley Parker Prize for an outstanding article published in PMLA. His writing appears in French Forum, Parade sauvage, Contemporary French Civilization, Francosphères, Europe, and several edited volumes. 

This event is co-sponsored by the African Studies Initiative, the Department of Asian Languages and Literatures, the Middle East and Islamic Studies Group, the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, the Department of History, and the Institute for Advanced Study.