Claire Ducournau is a tenured Associate Professor in Literature at Paul-Valéry – Montpellier 3 University, and a member of the RIRRA21 research center. Her work centers on francophone African writing, publishing and media. She is particularly interested in how sociological research methods and close textual analysis can be combined to explore African literature in both its aesthetic and material facets. She dedicated her doctoral thesis to mechanisms of production of the African literary canon – her monograph La Fabrique des classiques africains. Écrivains d’Afrique subsaharienne francophone (1960-2012), is a revised version published by CNRS editions in 2017. Her current research explores press archives distributed on the African continent, which challenge the canonical literary corpus mainly published in the North.

Claire Ducournau, Paul-Valéry – Montpellier 3 University

The Significant Literary Geographies of African Festivals: Expanding the Toolbox of the (World) Literary Scholar.

Reading List Description:

In an era where cultural festivals multiply, so-called African festivals have spread in Africa, but also outside of Africa, in major cities as well as in little-known villages, for example in provincial France. What are some of their implications and effects in the case of francophone African literature? These events privilege a continental representation of literature, which often reveals itself as problematic when confronted with the complex geographies of the texts and authors represented at these festivals. Drawing on a recent shift towards a “rematerialization” of research on festivals and its findings, and using cross-disciplinary methodology, this critical inquiry reads different reallocations of this persistent African matrix through a typology and contemporary examples (Kossi Efoui’s writings, the “Étonnants Voyageurs” and “Plein sud” festivals). As an object of study, festivals bear witness to the necessity of expanding the toolbox of the (world) literary scholar by making use of documentary sources and adopting ethnographic approaches. It reveals a structural tension between an African map and various concrete territories, where local issues matter often more than this continental category, and can affect the form and content of literature itself.

This reading list developed out of a talk given at SOAS “The significant literary geographies of African festivals: expanding the toolbox of the (world) literary scholar” by Claire Ducournau on 8th May 2019.

Download the reading list here: The Significant Literary Geographies of African festivals: Expanding the Toolbox of the (World) Literary Scholar