Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

Document Type



This thesis traces the evolution of attitudes towards the body, desire, autobiography, and self-affirmation, in three novels of Assia Djebar: L'amour, la fantasia, Vaste est la prison, and Les nuits de Strasbourg. The three novels share a common trait: the narrators' will to express their body and their desires. This body, which is simultaneously anonymous and concealed, is at the very center of a contradiction; it is often relegated to representation as a ghost without any corporeal reality. It is been our objective to follow the narrators' introspective reflection on the multiple relationships between Algerian women and public space, designated as a masculin dominion controlled by the male gaze. The narrators move from a symbolic aphasia in L'amour, la fantasia, in which they are incapable of experiencing and expressing emotions to the definition of a private space of desire in Vaste est la prison, and ultimately, in Les nuits de Strasbourg, to the possibility of mastering space and time which they themselves define in their relationships to men. In order to subvert the patriarchal system, the narrators develop strategies of camouflage and disguise as means of manipulating the notion of the incorporeal feminine body. In this progression from passive to active invisibility, they render conscious the unconscious dimension of their attitude towards themselves and towards men. In the context of Algerian society, the presence of woman in the public space is unacceptable. The gesture of making public space accessible to women requires a collaboration between the newly conscious Algerian woman and a male partner who embraces both her and his evolved identity.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Adelaide Russo