Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

Document Type



This study of Abdelkebir Khatibi’s autobiography, La Mémoire tatouée, addresses two specific questions with respect to autobiography: What does this autobiography tell us about autobiography in general and about its own status as autobiography? What is the relationship between Khatibi’s autobiography and his other more well-known texts? Chapter One focuses on questions of autobiography and how this text challenges generic classification and definition. The analysis in this chapter focuses on a consideration of form and innovation, the multiplicity of the autobiographical subject, and questions of completeness, accuracy and memory in the creation of autobiography. Chapter Two begins with the idea that this autobiography is a story of becoming, of how the protagonist comes to be a writer. As such, it is also the protagonist’s history as a reader, from his days at the Qur’anic school, to his years in the French educational system, and to his first efforts at creative writing. The narrator’s mention of a previous publication and his suggested ideas for future publications lead the reader to understand that this autobiography, as a story of writing, addresses the past writing efforts, the present autobiographical project, and possible future texts. Chapter Three addresses the intertextual relationship between Khatibi’s autobiography and his other texts. Khatibi’s key concepts of pensée-autre and double critique, the bi-langue, and the intersémiotique are evaluated here with respect to decolonization, translation and bilingualism, and writing and its relationship to multiple signifying or semiotic systems such as geography and urban planning, tattooing, and calligraphy. I show in this chapter that these ideas, elaborated in Khatibi’s later texts, are all present in the autobiography. The analysis of the intertextuality of Khatibi’s autobiography and his other texts reveals that the autobiography serves as a kind of introduction to Khatibi’s body of work. The repeated references to music, especially in the autobiography, indicate a fugal relationship between the autobiography and the later texts: the former is the theme and the latter are the variations on that theme. Thus, the autobiography is a prelude to Khatibi’s life’s work, his Text.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

J. Jefferson Humphries