MODL Picture

Power, Memory, and Culture - May 2007

Badalato, Anne Chapman

Anne Chapman Badalato is currently a graduate student in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. She received a Master's Degree in French at UCLA, and her B.A. in Modern Languages at Kansas State University. Her area of focus is the application of critical theories to biblical texts.

The (Un) adulterated Text: Legitimization, Power and Fidelity

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Can a biblical text be deconstructed to yield new openings not generally perceived by another type of biblical interpretation? In light of Derrida's theory of deconstruction, I read the text of John 8:1-11 to see how a deconstructive approach to a specific biblical text can add meaning, or ask questions that open new spaces for the old story of the adulterous woman. This reading is followed by a brief examination of how deconstruction has been used in the field of biblical/literary studies. The question of what Jesus writes on the ground, what would have/is written on the woman's body, and what is reflected back onto the men by Jesus' question are parts to this textual whole which, when reconstructed, yield a deeper understanding of this text. The fact that this passage is [bracketed] as addition to, an adulteration of, the "original" text yields more questions for a Derridean critique.

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Cordova, Sarah Davies

Dr. Sarah Davies Cordova is just back in the US, after three years away from the Dept. of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Marquette University. She spent the time directing the Marquette Service Learning Program in Cape Town South Africa. Sarah Davies Cordova works on interdisciplinarity and socio-cultural and historical representation in dance and literatures of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

Re-turning Transgressions from an Exi(s)l-ander: Michèle Rakotoson's Juillet au pays

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Michèle Rakotoson's interest in the individual personal stories which tell at bottom of fihavanana, the mutual support system that underlies Malagasy society, traduces her into a chronicler of the everyday, of history, and of her own annual returns to Madagascar since the overthrow of the dictatorship. As if writing a diary, her intimate prose encompasses the wide sweeps of a camera and its upclose shots as it writes in concrete descriptions and the lyrics to the songs that haunt the author, in French and Malagasy, and incorporates the past's constant presence in each quotidian moment. Like a journalist's report, Juillet au Pays: Chroniques d'un retour à Madagascar, chronicles Rakotoson's days, encounters, meetings, excursions and what has changed or not over her 20 years of exile spent in France. Yet her text also problematises the erasures and silences that govern both the cultures as well as the politics of the Red Island. Such questioning places her in the position of a transgressor of tradition as well as of style for she crafts this masterfully organised examination into a poetic, dialogic, musical, intertextual, and image-filled text which asks more questions than it answers about her other works, identity politics, her family history and that of the Imerina region within the context of Madagascar's own troubled past and its present-day situation.

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Davis, Aishah A

Aishah Davis received her BA in International Studies from Southern Methodist University, and is a recent MA graduate in Modern Languages from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is currently living and working in Barcelona, Spain as a manager in the pedagogical team of a language training company. Her research interests include Post-colonial literature and literatures of exile.

Reign of Terror Revisited: Volcanic Representations in Marie Vieux-Chauvet's La Danse Sur Le Volcan

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The volcano is both the birthing force of the islands of the Antilles as well as a destructive one that has wreaked havoc on its landscape across centuries. Many 20th century Caribbean writers have found a source of inspiration and identification in the image of the volcano, making it a recurrent theme throughout literature of the Antilles. It has been pointed out that the representation of the volcano in 20th century Caribbean literature carries with it a gender-specific quality-male authors associating it with social revolt and death, and female authors representing it as a haven for escaped slaves and, therefore, it functions as a symbol of life. Marie Vieux-Chauvet's depiction of the volcano in La Danse Sur Le Volcan is less local and more universal that that of her contemporaries in that, through her use of the spectacle in the novel, she draws a parallel between the Haitian revolts of the early 19th century and the French Revolution of the late 18th century. Marie Vieux-Chauvet's volcano is representative of the human spectacle, both nurturing and explosive. As such, her volcano is a looming symbol of the grand show that is universally comprehended.

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Fauzi, Sarah May

Sarah May Fauzi is a graduate student at the University of Texas at Arlington in the Linguistics department.

Doctor Meets Patient: The Effect of Cultural Memory on the Medical Interview

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Despite the increasing awareness of diverse health beliefs in the United States and around the world, studies involving the preparation of medical residents indicate that the medical community has been unable to keep up with the ever-growing immigrant population (Ghosh 2004, Bond et al. 2001, Fuller 2003). Patients from different parts of the world have diverse beliefs about health, disease, and illness (Fadiman 1997, Gould Martin 1978, Konadu 2002, and Pillsbury 1978). The combination of health beliefs and expectations for the interview itself form the "cultural beliefs" that are brought by each party to the medical interview. The construction of these cultural beliefs are shaped by one's cultural, religious, and social memory. These beliefs are present, not only in the mind of the patient, but also in the health care providers who have been raised in their own set of cultural beliefs that affect the way they approach patients. This study uses the misunderstandings that consequently occur between the foreign patient and his western physician to explore the cultural beliefs encoded in the discourse.

Doctors in The United States have reported that they are under prepared for dealing with the many sociocultural issues that arise when they see patients. Not only have they been inadequately prepared in medical school, but after they begin to see patients, they do not have the time with the patient to work through these issues and identify potential problems that may arise during the interaction, such as a mistrust of the US medical system or religious beliefs that do not agree with the diagnosis or treatment (Weismann 2005).

Physicians often assert a certain amount of control over their patients, constantly working to keep them on track with the goals of the interview: identifying and treating the physiological problem. This type of interaction between physicians and patients in the clinical setting does not allow much time or opportunity for the patient to explain what he is feeling or expecting to receive from the medical encounter. The result is a medical interview in which one or both participants are unsatisfied and, more importantly, a patient who is reluctant to comply with the treatment. I will discuss how the cultural beliefs that both the health care provider and the patient bring to the cross-cultural medical interview provide a unique challenge in treating illness.

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Fisher, M. Ryan

Michael Ryan Fisher is a graduate student in Anthropology at SMU in Dallas, TX. He is currently in the field completing research for his Ph. D. dissertation on Tibetan memory, narratives, and identity. He received his M.A. in Anthropology from SMU, and his B.A. in Anthropology from Texas A&M University in College Station.

Constructing Modern Tibetans as a Community of Remembrance

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Numerous scholars have argued that globalization and diaspora results in increasing accumulation of ideas and imaginations within personal and collective identities. This is certainly the case for Tibet. Tibetan identities have been greatly influenced by international discourses on human rights and freedom and the politics of self-determination since the exodus of Tibetans began in 1959 with the escape of the Dalai Lama. This has resulted in the production of a metanarrative of Tibetan-ness by the Tibetan government-in-exile and advocacy groups who work closely with the Tibetan freedom movement. The focus of this metanarrative is religiosity and suffering, which elevats a pan-Tibetan identity above individual and regional identities. While such a narrative is quite strong in shaping personal Tibetan narratives and memories, it is not an irresistible force. It is in this dialectic, between Tibetan personal and collective narratives, where this paper will seek to discuss how and why Tibetans remember the past in particular ways.

This paper will seek to understand how a metanarrative of Tibetan-ness acts as a guiding metaphor for constructing personal memories. This paper will also explore how individuals are molded as Tibetans, regardless of experience or the salience of nation narrative and memories for individuals. Through the narratives of Dorjee, a refugee living in Dharmasala, I will discuss individual experiences of the metanarrative of Tibetan-ness. His stories will serve as a beginning point through which I will examine larger issues of identity politics and the manipulation of memory and narratives as social capital in the international political arena.

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Fort, Pierre-Louis

Dr. Pierre-Louis Fort received his Ph. D. at the University of Paris VII. He is the author of numerous articles and his monograph, Ma mère, la morte: L'écriture du deuil chez Yourcenar, Beauvoir et Ernaux, was recently published with Imago Press in 2007. In 2008, Gallimard published his Critique et literature in their La bibliothèque Gallimard series.

At the Crossroads of language and identity: Julia Kristeva's bilingualism

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Julia Kristeva incarnates a certain quintessence of French thought abroad, yet she is often perceived as a foreigner in France. After having lived in France for more than forty years, has Julia Kristeva become a French woman of Bulgarian origin? A Bulgarian become French? Both at the same time? Exploring her personal polyphony and her relationship to multiple languages, she describes herself in her unique hybrid linguistic situation as a "monstre de carrefour"- a monster of the crossroads. The idea of a mediated and mediating linguistic identity lies behind this expression. I examine Kristeva's position vis à vis her maternal language and the role that French plays in the formation of her identity as a theorist. This presentation's focus is on Kristeva's linguistic particularity, her " in-between" status with respect to both language, as well as on the interrelationship between French and Bulgarian in Kristeva's creative process.

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Futamura, C. Wakaba

C. Wakaba Futamura obtained her Ph. D. in French Studies from Rice University. Her academic interests include French and Francophone literatures and cultures with a specific focus on North Africa(le Maghreb). She also pursues interdisciplinary research that incorporates women and gender studies and the visual arts.

Rewriting Memory, (Re)inventing Identity in Les rêveries de la femme sauvage

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With a childhood marked by the drama of hatred, betrayal, desire and longing, the narrator of Les rêveries de la femme sauvage struggles to confront the conflicting sentiments associated with her birthplace, Algeria. Seeking to escape the chaos and frustrations of the socio-political turmoil afflicting the nation, she leaves the country of her youth intending to never return again, neither in person nor in memory. She convinces herself of this for forty years . . . until one evening, hearing a bark resembling that of her childhood dog Fips, she acknowledges the need of resurrecting the past (Cixous, Les rêveries 168).

Author of Les rêveries de la femme sauvage, Hélène Cixous attempts to rewrite this challenging period of her life in order to (re)invent identity. Writing becomes her weapon against forgetting by offering her a means to preserve memory: an "anti-oubli" ("anti-oblivion"; Cixous, "De la scène . . ." 22). Despite the disorientation that takes place in the literary and psychological wanderings between "memory" and "oblivion," a " (ré)invention d'identités" ("(re)invention of identities") takes place (Soares 295). Her semi-autobiographical book contains eroded and fragmented memories, imaginative reveries and metaphorical imagery that depict her experiences of growing up in Algeria. This patchwork narrative of scenes, persons and incidents not only reveals her personal history, but also provides her with a creative approach to restoring a more complete subjectivity.

Acting as a safe neutral territory, this literary space gives Cixous the freedom to acknowledge the emotional hardships and treasures of her past. Ultimately, as Les rêveries de la femme sauvage illustrates, Cixous adopts a new nationality that allows her to (re)invent identity through writing: a "nationalité imaginaire qui est la nationalité littéraire" ("imaginary nationality that is literary"; Calle-Gruber and Cixous 207).

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Kilgore, Mylynka

Mylynka D'Ann Kilgore is currently a graduate student in Transatlantic History at The University of Texas at Arlington. She received both a Master's Degree and a B.A. in History at UTA. Her area of focus is eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European court culture in a transatlantic context.

Remembering Marie-Antoinette: The Martyr, the Whore, and the Icon

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Marie Antoinette and her image have been placed into three categories: positive, negative, and an amalgam of the two. In this paper I will present her placement in each group through the use of imagery, both contemporary and modern.

In her own time one's attitude towards Marie Antoinette depended upon which side of the Reign of Terror one was on. If one sympathized with the Queen, one was against Robespierre and vice versa. The good Queen was portrayed as a martyr of the Revolution, the scapegoat of the blood thirsty Jacobins. Images portraying her as a sorrowful mother and grieving widow evoked sympathy for a woman who had lost everything.

In contrast, Marie Antoinette was seen by others as the symbol of the corrupt nature of the monarchy. She was a lightning rod for competing ideologies during the French Revolution of 1789. The twin forces of misogyny and xenophobia kept her at the forefront of the firestorm. Her detractors called her the Austrian Whore, saw her as a catalyst of the Revolution, and blamed her for the downfall of France. The contemporary imagery portrays the Queen as a nymphomaniac, lesbian, adulteress, guilty of corruption and uttering the infamous, (yet apocryphal) "Let them eat cake!"

In postmodernist popular culture Marie Antoinette is viewed in a favorable light because she defied stereotype. Today she tends to be seen as a thoroughly (post)modern woman who was punished on all sides because of it. The image of Marie Antoinette epitomizes strength, sexuality, and the allure of the female. Evoking Marie Antoinette as a symbol of empowerment is to move her from one category to another, portraying her as positive because she exhibited the same traits that she was condemned for. Nonetheless, her image is still used and misused alternately to garner sympathy or to tarnish anyone seen as excessive or lacking empathy for the poor. The myriad of uses to which she is now put in popular culture illustrates the enduring power of her memory.

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Léger, Thierry

Dr. Thierry Léger is Associate Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Associate Professor of French at Kennesaw State University, Georgia. In addition to his administrative duties, Thierry teaches French language and literature courses at all levels. His research interest includes diversity and assessment as well as second language acquisition and contemporary French and Francophone literature. He has published several articles and made numerous presentations at national and international conferences on J.M.G. Le Clézio. Thierry Léger is a member of the Association des lecteurs de Le Cl´zio and the Secretary-Treasurer of the CIÉF [Conseil International d'Études Francophones, International Council on Francophone Studies].

Deconstructing History in Maryse Condé's The Last of the African Kings

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In this presentation, I examine the complex role of History in Maryse Condé's writings and the role that individual and collective history play in the identity quest of Condé's characters in The Last of the African Kings (1992). Fiction and History are closely intertwined in Condé's writings. Maryse Condé is not the first author to include historical references in her fictions, but she does it in a subversive way that forces the reader to question history itself. Condé refuses to write the history of a people, but rather describes how people are affected by many historical events without pretending to reconstruct history. History of the Caribbeans not only goes well beyond the Caribbean, but it constitutes a History that cannot be written, a History that can only be approached through the telling of many stories.

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Pereira, Heather

Heather Pereira currently teaches French in Irving, Texas. She received both her Master's Degree in Modern Languages and her B.A. in English and French at The University of Texas at Arlington. She plans on pursuing a PhD in French literature in the near future.

Spectacles of Memory in W or the Memory of Childhood, La Petit Bijou, and Shame

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The autobiography is a literary genre that forces the author to engage in a dialogue with him or herself; the author who is writing in the present must continually confront the person that he /she was in the past. Given that the author of the autobiography is distanced from his/her past and therefore tells his/her story from the current perspective, a position which facilitates the sorting and choosing of memories presented to the reader, the autobiography is an attempt by the author to interpret the past. Because the autobiographical genre blends fiction and reality, the narrator's life and the author's life cannot be considered one and the same. Moreover, the autobiography is necessarily and inevitably a form of fiction as the author has the power to create a new reality by weaving together past and current perspectives and facts. Inasmuch, autobiographic works are fictitious narratives based on real and objective facts that are subjectively evaluated by the author who interprets them. This can be seen in the three works by French authors that will be examined in this paper: W or the Memory of Childhood by Georges Perec, La Petite Bijou by Patrick Modiano, and Shame by Annie Ernaux.

Modiano's La Petite Bijou presents a character who strings together elements of her life in order to understand it. In this novel, involuntary memory, the sensation that sends the narrator of the present into the past where she rediscovers lost memories, creates a false reality for the narrator. The rediscovered memories no longer represent what was real in the past because they are interpreted in the light of the narrator's present feelings. As a result, the narrator's memories give her the means necessary to escape the reality of the past. On the other hand, in Perec's W or the Memory of Childhood and in Ernaux's Shame, the narrators piece together the past, consciously compartmentalizing and separating their memories in order to free themselves the ghosts of their pasts. These two works, which are examples of narratives constructed by a mosaic of separate souvenirs, go beyond a simple resurrection of the past; the narrators' goals are cathartic: they revisit their past from a position where they are no longer actors but spectators as means of resigning themselves to its reality in the present.

I want to suggest in this paper that the narrator of Modiano's La Petite Bijou uses her unconscious memory in an attempt to flee her current reality while the narrators of W or the Memory of Childhood by Perec and Shame by Annie Ernaux use the deliberate separation of their memories to come to terms with their respective pasts.

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Sol, Antoinette

Dr. Antoinette Sol is an Associate Professor of French at the University of Texas at Arlington. She is the author of numerous articles on the XVIII century and literature of the Antilles. She is currently working on a critical edition of an early XIX century novel dealing with racial issues and a monograph centering on the professionalisation of women writers in the early XIX century. Dr. Sol is also the coordinator of the MODL Cultural Constructions Symposium.

Trials and Tribulations: Readings and Misreadings of the Revolutionary Body in French Women Novelists, 1792-1799

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Out of approximately 115 novels published from 1789 to 1800 in France, 30 of them are translations. Translating had traditionally been a way for women to enter into writing while masking the audaciousness and inappropriateness of a woman's participation in the social public discourse. Translations empowered women by furnishing the platform to stage the appearance of a protected public voice. Before 1789, women writing and translating novels were not necessarily motivated by the need to earn their living (with a few notable exceptions) but rather by other considerations. The advent of the French Revolution however opened up and closed off at the same time the possibility of women's writing at the moment when writing became one of the few ways a well born or bourgeois woman could somewhat respectably make her way in the new social landscape. The former pastime became a profession for these women who had been left all but destitute and bereft of familial support. I look at translation then as a trope (translatio- to transfer or transport) that applies both figuratively and literally to how these women lived, what they wrote and how they wrote, translating from one language to another, from one genre to another, from one world (l'Ancien regime) to another (the new social order of the new century), and transform the gendered male revolutionary rhetoric into female inclusionary forms. Pauline de Meulan Guizot, Elisabeth de Brossin Guénard, join the more well known Mme de Stael, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Hays, Mme de Genlis, Helen Maria Williams, and Francis Burney in their social, ideological, generic as well as linguistic "translations".

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