Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

Document Type



In their 2007 manifesto, Quand les murs tombent: l’identit&236; nationale hors-la-loi, &200;douard Glissant and Patrick Chamoiseau propose that the nation-state is a stumbling block to global solidarity as it emphasizes cultural division. In order to achieve international community across borders, people must find common bonds that link them across traditional lines of conflict. My thesis applies this notion within the context of la Francophonie, an organization that has struggled with its goal of cultural rapprochement as its member nations continue to perceive each other as foreign entities rather than as like components of a larger community. I assert that la Francophonie is connected by a series of historical and literary experiences that go beyond the organization’s stated unities of language and humanistic values, and that these experiences are rooted in conflict. To understand what is common across nations, one need first look at what is uncommon within them. In examining lines of division that disrupt national unities, I uncover international ones, highlighting trans-historical and transnational trends in the types of conflict that revolve around specific contentious subjects, as well as the similarities of conditions, motivations, and actions that mark these battles. My first chapter addresses the issue of language, detailing the ways in which multilingual societies struggle to cope with coexistence. I show that speakers of various languages are confronted with consistent social imbalances, attempts to regulate language usage, and questions of national affiliation. In my second chapter, I analyze religious divides that have plagued numerous civilizations, positing that religions become embroiled in two archetypical relationships: an uneasy relationship with the state marked by interference, and a paradigm in which minority religions are transformed into archrivals. My third chapter brings a different perspective to the notion of national conflict, using literature to highlight tensions between individuals and the urban environments they call home. I establish a common antagonistic relationship with the city as diverse authors struggle against the psychological strains of losing their emotional connections, their freedom, and their moral fiber. I conclude by demonstrating the contemporary relevance of establishing new imaginaires in light of evolving conceptions of global connections.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Russo, Adelaide