Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French Studies

First Advisor

Katharine A. Jensen


The aim of this dissertation is to explore the works of Houari, Belghoul and Begag to question a prefabricated model of identity and press for new theories which value a concept of a constructed subjectivity and a rupture with a monolithic mentality. The main purpose of this study is to examine, through a series of close textual readings, how the text becomes the only dynamic space for a creative discourse of identity which emerges from an interstitial cultural space. In chapter one I argue that the significant concern of Houari's novel is the heroine's quest for the correct cultural identity. Her journey to acquire a singular cultural subjectivity is doomed because her body is a product of exile cultures. This narrative articulates how Zeida's body becomes an obstacle, and, how the character awakens to a self that can only be situated in a "nulle part" space. It is only in this type of uncertainty that it is possible for Zeida to finally come to terms with and express an interstitial feminine identity. In chapter two, I demonstrate that Georgette!, is narrated through the entanglement of the voices of both the author and the young heroine to emphasize that they deeply resent a French writing which is strongly burdened by ethnocentric values. We examine how, for Beglhoul and her protagonist, subjectivity becomes solely a product of writing which entails a French identity or, more precisely, an identity---Georgette, which both author and character reject violently because it excludes the father's Kabyle heritage. In chapter three and four we explore the work of Begag to demonstrate, in the first part, the mechanisms of intimidation that the French educational system employs to persuade the character to despise his origins in order to assimilate into the mainstream culture. In the second part we stress that the author's style becomes a way for him to eliminate this dialectical relationship of dominant and dominated in order to place the Arabic and French cultures on the same footing. Language serves as a vehicle of reappropriation of hybrid subjectivity.