Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

Document Type



This dissertation proposes a feminist narratological study of texts by Ananda Devi, a contemporary Francophone writer from Mauritius. I examine three principle narrative strategies that allow Devi to challenge the dominant androcentric discourses. These discourses ignore the feminine world of domesticity and impose images of submission on women, thereby curbing feminine expression and quest. Inspired by the efforts of critics such as Alison Case, Robyn Warhol, Susan Lanser to study narrative structures in the context of cultural constructions of gender, I argue that Devi employs narrative strategies that allow her marginalized narrators to intervene in dominant structures of narrative construction and create hybrid magical spaces for feminine expression. In the first chapter I analyze how Devi subverts the romance plot to bring to the fore alternative models of romance and sexuality that go beyond the binary man-woman opposition. Furthermore, drawing upon Susan Lanser’s notion of “plotlessness,” I argue that Devi’s plotless novels not only valorize feminine space but also allow the narrator to connect with her narratees, creating a sense of feminine solidarity. The second chapter analyses how she questions the Western notion of linear temporality by privileging cyclical narratives that create space for feminine dialogue as her works connect women across time. This chapter also examines Devi’s transgression of narrative boundaries by introducing multiple narrators through narrative metalepsis, thus introducing multiple consciousnesses by inviting different voices to construct the narrative. The third chapter probes Devi’s non-Western techniques as she merges Western reality with the magic of the Orient and allows her characters accessibility to extra-real and magical spaces that become tools for them. In this section I also examine how Hindu myths and folktales intervene in the reality of Devi’s novels, influencing her characters and narrators. In the process, however, Devi also scrutinizes the myths themselves by questioning their representations of women. In this way Devi has effectively used different strategies to create a hybrid space where the West meets the non-West, the feminine meets the androcentric, the real meets the extra-real and the traditional distinctions between these categories are challenged for alternate and new possibilities.



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Committee Chair

Jack Yeager