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Call for Papers (SFPS Postgraduate Study Day): ‘Unbound: Francophone literature beyond the book’

14th March 2019

Call for Papers:
‘Unbound: Francophone literature beyond the book’
Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies: Postgraduate Study Day
University of Liverpool
Friday 31st May 2019

Keynote speaker: TBC
Careers session speaker: Professor Charles Forsdick (Liverpool)


A wealth of Francophone literature lies beyond the bound volume. Once considered secondary or supplementary texts, in recent years literary ephemera have been brought from the periphery and formed the basis of a substantial body of criticism. It has even been argued that to publish in formats other than the book is to publish ‘like a modernist,’ without which postcolonial literature ‘would not exist’ (Bulson 2017).

Perhaps the genre to have gained most traction is the periodical, notable examples of which include Tropiques (1941-45), Présence Africaine (1947-) and Souffles-Anfas (1966-72). Periodicals and newspapers have been analysed for how they have fostered nationalism – Anderson’s ‘steady onward clocking of homogenous, empty time’ – and facilitated transnational exchange, posing a threat to the Francophone empire ‘above all for the anti-imperialist linkages and alliances they practiced’ (Edwards 2003). More recently, a group of Creolist intellectuals, including Patrick Chamoiseau and Raphaël Confiant, chose to publish its Manifeste pour les ‘produits’ de haute necessité in Le Monde before releasing a bound copy in 2009. Such examples prompt reflections on how materiality shapes content, and how we as Francophone scholars divide art from artefact. The recent surge in the digitization of ephemera has undoubtedly drawn new critical attention to papers and small publications previously overlooked for want of easy access, but carries with it methodological concerns: for example, how digital format affects close reading, or how to archive responsibly on the internet.
Francophone authors have also used ephemera to experiment with form within the novel. Katia Rubenstein’s Mémoire illettrée d’une fillette d’Afrique du Nord à l’époque coloniale (1978) breaks up its narrative with newspaper clippings, thus bringing the storyline into conversation with global events, whilst Malek Haddad’s Je t’offrirai une gazelle (1991) constructs a self-referential narrative between the protagonist and his yet-unpublished manuscript of the same title. Items beyond the book have thus shaped individual narratives as much as they have the broader Francophone literary sphere.

We invite papers which cover any of the following: manuscripts, manifestos, posters, periodicals, pamphlets and other ephemera. We also invite those which discuss the representation of such items in literary texts, including bound volumes.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:
– The national or transnational impact of a particular manuscript, manifesto, pamphlet or periodical.
– Nationalist, transnational, anti- or postcolonial networks formed or facilitated by a particular periodical, manifesto or pamphlet.
– The use of material beyond the book as a means of formal innovation within a particular novel or by a particular author.
– Methodological questions associated with the digitization, digital reproduction and archiving of ephemera.

Those interested in giving a paper should send an abstract of about 250 words along with a short bio to Orane Onyekpe-Touzet ( by Friday 26th April 2019. Abstracts will then be reviewed and participation confirmed by Friday 10th May 2019.

Organizing committee: Foara Adhikari (UCL), Charlotte Baker (Lancaster), Mohammed Bouaddis (Lancaster), Rebecca Glasberg (UCLA), Jemima Paine (Liverpool), Orane Onyekpe-Touzet (Warwick/Université Paris Sorbonne).

Featured image: Apulée n° 4 – Traduire le monde

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