How Can a French Novel Speak Arabic? Lebanese Women’s Writing and the Politics of Language
Dr. Michelle Hartman
Thursday, 9 March 2017, 7 PM - 9 PM
SFU Vancouver Campus; Segal Building, Room 1300-1500; 500 Granville St., Vancouver.
Lebanese poet Nadia Tuéni is one of many Lebanese women authors who claimed that her French-language poetry was able to capture the musicality and rhythm of Arabic. One reason for this may be that French-language writing in Lebanon has often marginalized or seen as politically suspect and Francophile because it uses the colonial language of the region. Invoking Arabic is a way to neutralize these critiques and many Lebanese women writers of French engage questions of language thoughtfully in their texts to explore political and poetic possibilities. Using Arabic in French novels may be a promising challenge to colonial languages on the surface, but how can we understand the more specific complexities of the literary and social features of this linguistic play? What techniques do Lebanese women authors use to engage multiple languages in their novels written in French? And what are the politics of these poetic moves? This talk will use an anti-colonial framework and draw upon specific examples of ways in which Lebanese women authors use Arabic in their French-language novels to engage and explore these and larger questions about the politics of language use and literature.
Michelle Hartman is Associate Professor of Arabic Literature at the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University, where she teaches courses on contemporary Arabic literature with a focus on gender and the politics of translating Arabic into English. Dr. Hartman is the author of Native Tongue, Stranger Talk: The Arabic and French Literary Landscapes of Lebanon (Syracuse University Press, 2014) and the translator into English of four Arabic novels.