Authorizing a tradition: Theory, criticism and (self-) canonization in French Caribbean writing

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2 Citations (Scopus)


As critics have noted, Antillean literature has developed in tandem with a strong (self-) critical and theoretical body of work. The various attempts to theorize Antillean identity (négritude, antillanité, créolité) have been controversial and divisive, and the literary scene has been characterized as explosive, incestuous and self-referential. Yet writers aligned with, or opposed to, a given theory often have superior visibility. Meanwhile writers who claim to operate outside the boundaries of theory, such as Maryse Condé, are often canny theoretical operators who, from prestigious academic or cultural positions, manipulate readers’ responses and their own self-image through criticism. While recent polemics have helped to raise the critical stock of the islands generally, they have particularly enhanced the cultural capital of Chamoiseau and Condé, whose literary antagonism is in fact mutually sustaining. Both writers, through a strong awareness of (and contribution to) the critical field in which their work is read, position themselves as canonical authors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-92
Number of pages16
JournalFrench Cultural Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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