Friday, December 3, 2004

Vietnamese And Algerian Francophone Literature Topic Of Washington College Professor's New Book

Chestertown, MD, December 3, 2004 — Pamela Pears, assistant professor of French at Washington College, has just released her new work, Remnants of Empire in Algeria and Vietnam: Women, Words, and War, published by Lexington Books this November. InRemnants of Empire, Pears proposes a new approach to francophone studies that employs postcolonial theory, along with gender and feminist inquiries, to emphasize the connections between two geographically and culturally-separated postcolonial francophone literatures.

“The purpose of this book is to introduce those who may not be aware of it to francophone literature from Algeria and Vietnam, especially that written by women,” Pears said. “I also wanted to demonstrate the links between the two former French colonies to show how, ultimately, they are powerful reminders of a shared colonial heritage. Based on my research, I've found that we can gain a much greater understanding of the feminine postcolonial subject through a comparative approach such as this.”

Pears studied four novels—Yamina Mechakra's La Grotte éclatée, Ly Thu Ho's Le Mirage de la paix, Malika Mokeddem's L'Interdite, and Kim Lefèvre's Retour la saison des pluies—that illustrate the profound transformation of women's roles in Algeria and Vietnam during and following the presence of French colonialism. These four authors never attempt to unfold a clear and single definition of the postcolonial female subject, but, instead, explore the various subjective possibilities, expand on them, and ultimately place them in question. Although the differences between Algeria and Vietnam are striking, it is through their connections to one another that we can foreground postcolonial gender issues, according to Pears. Whereas geographical boundaries and official nationalities serve as divisive classifications, the links between the works lead us to a much more engaging dialogue and understanding of postcolonial Francophone literature.

“Pamela Pears has written a compelling study,” said Mildred Mortimer, professor of French and Francophone Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “She argues convincingly that the experience of French colonialism, the changing role of women in society, and the narrative technique of fragmentation link the writings of Algerian novelists, Yamina Mechakra and Malika Mokeddem to Vietnamese writers Ly Thu Ho and Kim Lefèvre. As Pears aptly notes, women, words, and war are the vestiges of the colonial empire that France secured in the nineteenth century and lost in the twentieth. Cultural influences survive political and military struggles.”

A graduate of Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Pears holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and has taught French language and literature at Washington College since 2001.

Lexington Books, a division of Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, publishes specialized scholarship that contributes to the most current debates in the humanities and social sciences. From political theory, history, international studies, and philosophy to innovative journals and book series in fields such as comparative political theory, practical philosophy, and Japanese studies, Lexington provides a forum for important new work by emerging and established scholars.

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