Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean

hardwick-childhood-caribbean161x240I’m currently working on a book on Joseph Zobel, and as those ideas take form, I’ve been blogging about some of the directions I’ll take. If you’re interested in this, take a look at the pages on Ecocriticism and WW1 and the French Caribbean.

But what sparked my interest in Joseph Zobel?

I wrote an AHRC-funded doctoral thesis at the University of Oxford, which I then adapted into the book Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean which was published in 2013. In this project, I discussed récits d’enfance, or childhood narratives, by a range of authors, including Zobel. In the scope of this project, I examined La Rue Cases-Nègres, La Fête à Paris (later republished as Quand la neige aura fondu) and Laghia de la mort.

So if you’re looking for academic criticism of Zobel which has already been published, here’s the write-up of that book:

Louise Hardwick, Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013)

The book  draws attention to a neglected body of récits d’enfance by contemporary bestselling, prize-winning Francophone Caribbean authors Patrick Chamoiseau, Maryse Condé, Gisèle Pineau, Daniel Maximin, Raphaël Confiant and Dany Laferrière, while also offering new readings of texts by Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Edouard Glissant, Joseph Zobel, Françoise Ega, Michèle Lacrosil, Maurice Virassamy and Mayotte Capécia.

This book examines a major modern turn in Francophone Caribbean literature towards the récit d’enfance, or childhood memoir, and asks why this occurred post-1990. Texts are read in the context of recent changes in public policy and education policy concerning the commemoration of slavery and colonialism both in France and at a global level, including the UNESCO project ‘La Route de l’esclave’, the ‘loi Taubira’ and the ‘Comité pour la mémoire de l’esclavage’.

The study proposes an innovative methodological paradigm with which to read postcolonial childhoods in a comparative framework from areas as diverse as the Caribbean, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and particularly the Haitian diaspora in North America.

Find out about my other recent publications at:

Reviews of Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean

Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean is the first book-length study of a remarkable literary phenomenon that emerged in the last decade of the twentieth century in the French Antilles and Haiti – the autobiographical narrative. Louise Hardwick expertly analyses this relatively understudied genre which uses childhood narrative in as much a politically as an aesthetically subversive manner. Her clear, meticulous and informed study reveals the ways in which these narratives of childhood, driven by a devoir de mémoire, relate individual memory to collective identity. This is a welcome critical work that makes a major contribution to francophone as well as to postcolonial literary studies.   Professor J. Michael Dash, New York University

… a study that is a pleasure to read … Hardwick’s meticulous research, balanced approach and lucid prose merit serious consideration from specialists of the region. Professor Françoise Lionnet, University of California Los Angeles

In an impressive series of close readings, Louise Hardwick analyses the genre of autobiographical childhood narratives … These innovative readings constitute the volume’s tour de force: in inaugurating the critical field of récits d’enfance studies, it renews our approaches to Francophone Caribbean literature in general. Dr Malik Noël-Ferdinand, Université des Antilles-Guyane

Louise Hardwick’s excellent study is a most welcome contribution to the field … With its beautiful style and pedagogical structure, it is a didactic masterpiece. Dr Christina Kullberg, Uppsala University, Sweden