Contemporary Black, African, and African diaspora writers across the world are redefining literature and criticism in French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Here are some noteworthy books in their original languages recently acquired by the UC Berkeley Library. Translations into English may also be available for some of the better known.
Please also see the related English literatures post for Black History Month 2024 and the Black History at Cal library research guide.
A recent overhaul of the two literary research guides for French and Francophone Literatures and Italian Literature & Criticism first created quite a long time ago will improve navigation and discovery in these vast print collections. Over the course of the past year, we have critically reviewed the former guides, weeded outdated resources, and replaced them with more current content with links to digital resources when available.
These two literature research guides are now benefiting from the LibGuides platform, which makes it much easier to revise than the former PDFs. Each guide is structured by sections for article databases, general guides and literary histories, reference tools, poetry, theater & performance, and literary periods. They interface seamlessly with related guides published by the UC Berkeley Library. For example, on the home page of each LibGuide, there is a prominent link to the lists of recently acquired publications in both French and Italian, making it even easier to stay current on new books in any particular call number range.
Because the guides are much easier to update, they encourage user interaction and invite community suggestions for inclusion (or deletion).
If you have time over the winter break, please take a whirl and let us know what you think. We’ll be unveiling a similar guide for Iberian Literatures & Criticism this spring!
Oral Narratives and Black Lives in Francophone Studies
Senegalese in the Diaspora: What Sociolinguistic Interviews Can Tell Us about Language, Race, Mobility, and Belonging
Maya Smith, University of Washington
Drawing on extensive interviews with people of Senegalese heritage in Paris, Rome, and New York City, this talk explores the fascinating role of language in national, transnational, postcolonial, racial, and migrant identities. Senegalese in the diaspora are notable in their capacity for movement and in their multifaceted approach to discourse, shaping their identity as they purposefully switch between languages. Through a mix of poignant, funny, reflexive, introspective, and witty stories, interviewees blur the lines between the utility and pleasure of language, allowing a more nuanced understanding of why and how Senegalese move.
“Un désordre indescriptible”: Folklore as Mask in the Congolese Nervous State
Jonathon Repinecz, George Mason University
This paper is part of a larger project about how colonial explorers, missionaries, and magistrates in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo used strategies of “folklorization”—that is, the framing of oral traditional materials as quaint, rural, and authentic—as propaganda in the service of popularizing the colony and obscuring the everyday violence of the colonial state. It will focus on the archives of Léon Guébels, a prosecutor and judge who published many folklore collections under a pseudonym, contain manuscripts written by Congolese schoolchildren in both French and African languages, sent to him by their teachers, which he overwrites in large red letters with appreciations such as “IDIOTIC,” “NOT WITTY ENOUGH,” or “CLEARLY THE INVENTION OF A SILLY CHRISTIAN GIRL.” I will examine some of the reasons he finds these tales inconvenient, framing my findings in the context of colonial racial anxieties over subversive ideologies, urbanization, “detribalization,” and open rebellion.
Thursday, September 23 • 4-6pm
French Department Library (4229 Dwinelle)
Al Manar Éditions is an independent publishing house dedicated to the art and literatures of the Mediterranean with a notable focus on the Arab world. Established in 1996 within the Galerie Al Manar in Casablanca, directed by Alain and Christine Gorius from 1994 to 2003, the editorial house is now based in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, and has published nearly 400 titles to date. Whether in translation or in original language, the majority of their books are in French. Well-known writers in their catalog from the global south include Vénus Khoury-Ghata, Adonis, Abdelkebir Khatibi, Mohammed Bennis, Abdellatif Laâbi, Mostafa Nissabouri, and Salah Stétié. From Europe and among others, there is Sylvie Germain, Jean-Pierre Millecam, Nicole de Pontcharra, as well as Kabila, a French painter of Andalusian Roma origin. Others include Syrian poets Aïcha Arnaout and Maram Al-Masri, Lebanese writers Etel Adnan, Georgia Makhlouf, Leïla Sebbar and Albert Bensoussan, who, by virtue of their family origins and their background, belong to both shores of the Mediterranean, like Anne Rothschild, an Ashkenazi poet and engraver who is often met in Tahar Bekri Ramallah—a Tunisian poet, or Özdemir Ince a—Turkish poet and man of letters as well as the Catalan translator and literary critic Jaume Pont.
Al Manar serves as a reputable vehicle of dissemination for the staggering diversity of thought and creative talent in the Mediterranean region. The UC Berkeley Library is proud to hold more than 40 of its imprints with several of the more precious artists’ books shelved in The Bancroft Library. The publishing house regularly exhibits at the Codex Book Fair and Symposium held biannually in Richmond and Berkeley.