Interpreting the Republic
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Interpreting the Republic : Marginalization and Belonging in Contemporary French Novels and Films

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Interpreting the Republic focuses on contemporary French literary and cinematic works (1986-2003) to reflect on what it means to belong to a nation such as France. Vinay Swamy demonstrates how supposedly unshakable principles based on French republican ideals, can be, and often are, (re)interpreted in novel ways by the works analyzed in this study, which carve out niches for their protagonists that are otherwise foreclosed in the French national space.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 208 pages
  • 208.28 x 274.32 x 7.62mm | 294.83g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 13 black & white halftones
  • 0739165372
  • 9780739165379

Review quote

Vinay Swamy's admirable Interpreting the Republic: Marginalization and Belonging in Contemporary French Novels and Films is a remarkable intervention in French and Francophone studies, one that brings the field closer to bridging the gap between 'French' and 'Francophone.' It does so by bringing 'Beur studies' to the center of both metropolitan French studies and the way we understand the French Republic, thereby demarginalizing the postcolonial periphery. Swamy does not stop there, however, for he goes on to add several additional layers of complexity to his redefinition of the Republic by incorporating questions of gender, sexuality, and religion. In the context of a global 'war on terror,' this timely study therefore thoroughly challenges what some have called a "clash of civilizations. -- Jarrod Hayes, University of Michigan In this elegant and incisively written study, Swamy shows how recent Francophone literature and cinema are changing and indeed enriching the legacy of Republican France. At this very moment, in the midst of current events in Tunisia and Egypt, his arguments in favor of our embrace of difference are timely and necessary. This book shows exactly what we can make and do with the Francophone canon in the best of all ways. Interpreting the Republic is a book that engages and inspires. -- Tom Conley, Abbott Lawrence Lowell Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies and of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University This modest discussion of five novels and five films (1986-2003) by writers with Maghrebi antecedents requires ingenious interpretations, first about the works themselves and second about what they bring to the concept of French and Frenchness. The reader will assume that Swamy (Vassar), who offers few opinions of his own, supports the notion that all French are Francophone and that the North African Maghrebi are simply the latest influx of immigrants to France itself. Whether their citizenship or their deviation from heterosexual normativity is at stake, the protagonists of the works Swamy discusses want to belong. The author is particularly impressive in situating these works in the context of the ongoing political debates that came to a head with the banlieue riots when Nicolas Sarkozy was minister of the interior. Although Swamy quotes liberally from the French, he provides accurate translations. And because he includes synopses of the works discussed and captioned photographs even those who have not read the novels or seen the films will find the discussion easy to follow. CHOICE Vinay Swamy's monograph represents an important addition to recent scholarship that seeks to expand studies of minority populations and perspectives in France to include not only the category of ethnicity but also gender and sexual orientation...This study proves to be engaging and well argued. Contemporary French Civilization Interpreting the Republic moves deftly among interdisciplinary approaches ranging from cultural and postcolonial studies to political analysis, film criticism, and literary theory...Swamy offers a fresh and important contribution to the scholarship on the identity debate. French Forumshow more

About Vinay Swamy

Vinay Swamy is assistant professor of French and Francophone studies at Vassar College.show more

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Chapter One: Ethnicizing the National, Nationalizing the Ethnic Chapter 3 Chapter Two: The Society of Spectacle in Post 9/11 France Chapter 4 Chapter Three: Reading Gender into Ethnicity Chapter 5 Chapter Four: Of Lesbians and Cross-dressers Chapter 6 Chapter Five: In the Shadow of the Republic Chapter 7 Conclusionshow more