Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

French

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

This project argues for a new critical approach to contemporary Caribbean and Oceanic literatures through a poetics of dépassement. A key concept to understanding the work of the Martinican theorist and author Édouard Glissant as a whole, dépassement generally designates, first, a dialectical process in literature that Glissant uses to analyze texts in order to portray a global and universal poetical knowledge. Secondly, dépassementimplies transcending literary genres and historical approaches to the point that formal and conventional constraints are no longer pertinent. Through a study dedicated to the original interpretations of literature in Glissant’s early work (1953-1969), which are derived from his study of philosophers Jean Wahl and Gaston Bachelard, I examine Glissant’s creation of a poetics of dépassement involving transnational and transcultural sites of meaning and context.

In my literary analysis I place Glissant's concept of dépassementin conversation with the works of authors from the Caribbean and Indian Ocean archipelagos (i.e. Alfred Alexandre, Ali Zamir, Ananda Devi, etc.). In their novels, these writers move away from the traditional narrative techniques of European rhetoric and from the themes of memory, history, exile, and trauma that are characteristic of 20th century Francophone narratives, in order to question the representations of the Caribbean and Indian Ocean archipelagoes as insular, underdeveloped, touristic regions. Therefore, these modern texts call for a new critical and theoretical approach to Francophone studies, which, I argue, can only be achieved through the development of a poetics of dépassement. Such a poetics enlightens overlooked aspects of Glissant’s oeuvre while providing literary tools to better understand contemporary authors.

Committee Chair

Russo, Adelaide.

Available for download on Monday, March 16, 2026

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