Photographs in Two Works of Life Writing: L’Afrique fantôme by Michel Leiris and L’Africain by J.-M.G Le Clezio

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Creator: 

Rushton, Matthew Daniel

Date: 

2018

Abstract: 

This dissertation looks at the role of photographs in two works of autobiographical, travel-based life writing. Michel Leiris' 1934 travel diary, L'Afrique fantôme features 31 ethnographic photographs taken during a French ethnographic expedition that crossed sub-Saharan Africa at the beginning of the 1930s. J.-M.G. Le Clézio's 2004 memoir L'Africain includes 15 photographs taken by his father, a British medical doctor stationed in remote areas of Cameroon and Nigeria in the 1930s and 1940s. What brings these works together in this research has surprisingly little to do with the readily apparent commonalities in subject matter between the two photo sets—peoples and places of the African continent during the high colonial period. Rather, we focus here on text-image relationships, examining how, in each case, the photographs aremade to be autobiographical. Taking an intermedial approach to literary studies that raises the photographs up from a subordinate illustrative function, we consider the primarily textual operations that, in plays of meaning and intention, work to appropriate and incorporate into these texts photographs that can be resistant or disruptive to those efforts. Our readings of these works contribute new insight into the use and function of photographs in life writing.

Subject: 

Literature - Modern
Leiris, Michel, 1901-1990
Le Clézio, J.-M. G. (Jean-Marie Gustave), 1940-

Language: 

English

Publisher: 

Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Doctor of Philosophy: 
Ph.D.

Thesis Degree Level: 

Doctoral

Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Cultural Mediations

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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