Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2017

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

French and Francophone World Studies

First Advisor

Laronde, Michel

First Committee Member

Scullion, Rosemarie

Second Committee Member

Curtius, Anny

Third Committee Member

Laurian, Lucie

Fourth Committee Member

Racevskis, Roland


The literatures of Immigration from North Africa to France represent one of the constitutive fields of investigation for Postcolonial Francophone studies. As such, approaches to this are often locked in a postcolonial perspective. Through my courses in 20th century literature, I discovered several aspects of literature of immigration that relate to French popular literature. In light of this, my dissertation establishes a link between these two literary genres by analyzing the evolution of urban spaces in the Parisian periphery. The primary objective of this dissertation is to translate aspects of the contemporary issues of the French banlieues from a purely postcolonial perspective to questions of institutional choices in French city planning over the course of the past hundred and fifty years. The underlying assumption is that the spatial transformation that has taken place has affected the social interactions of the inhabitants and contributed to the evolution of a working class mentality. The expectation is that in-depth understanding of this interaction will allow me to explore the socio-cultural situation in France’s suburbs today.

Beginning with the renovation of Paris, undertaken by Haussmann in the second half of the nineteenth century, each of the five chapters of my dissertation corresponds to a particular moment of this evolution. For every chapter, I analyze the characters’ relationships with their spatial surroundings, as well as the nature of their social interactions with other residents. The first novels are the only ones of my corpus set in the interior part of Paris. As more and more of the urban working class is driven outside of the city limits by the renovations and the rapidly developing industry in the periphery, the texts illustrate the increasing social isolation and loss of agency for the characters. In aligning popular literature and literature of immigration on the same axis, my focus lies primarily on the geographical space, the banlieue, and its transformation in time.


Banlieues, Francophone, French Literature, Immigration, Working class


ix, 237 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 232-237).


Copyright © 2017 Stève Levillain