Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
French and Francophone World Studies
Anny D. Curtius
In addition to proposing a survey and subsequent analysis of the French-Algerian War in French-language comics, also known as bandes dessinées, published in Algeria, France, and Belgium since the 1960s, my dissertation investigates the ways in which this medium re-appropriates textual and iconographic source materials. I argue that the integration or citation of various sources by artists functions to confer a measure of historical accuracy on their representation of history, to constitute a collective memory as well as personal postmemories of the war, and to re-contextualize problematic images so that they and the hegemonic discourses they reinforce may be deconstructed. Moreover, the bande dessinée mimics secondary schoolbook representations of the war in both Algeria and France in its recycling of problematic images such as Orientalist painting, colonial postcards, and iconic images of war. The recycling of textbook images has the double advantage of ensuring reader familiarity with these images and of inviting critical interpretations of them. By exploring how the bande dessinée reuses colonial images as well as critical histories in predominantly anti-colonialist narratives, I seek to explain how this popular medium uniquely problematizes questions of history, memory, and postcolonial identity related to French Algeria and its decolonization. It is my contention that, because historical bandes dessinées frequently include or reference authentic textual and iconographic source material documenting the repercussions of the French-Algerian war on various communities, they represent a valuable resource to middle and high school teachers looking to enrich the state-mandated history curriculum. By using the bande dessinée in this capacity, educators exploit this medium as both a historical document (whose objective is to transmit knowledge of the past) and a document of history (which allows scholars to retrace the evolution of public opinion).
Copyright 2010 Jennifer Therese Howell
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