Submission Date

7-22-2016

Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access

Department

Modern Languages (French)

Faculty Mentor

Julin Everett

Comments

Presented during the 18th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 22, 2016 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

This project explores the relationship between patriarchy and expectations of linguistic and cultural mastery. It examines narratives in which French female teachers co-opt the masculine authority of Algerian immigrant fathers. I also consider the experience of immigrant children inhabiting both the French classroom and the immigrant home. After the Second World War, France, in need of manual laborers, recruited rural men from their North African colony, Algeria. These immigrants understood, firstly that they would be given shelter; secondly, that their temporary work in the automotive or construction industries meant an eventual return to Algeria. When, in the 1970s, it became clear that these men would never return home, their wives and children joined them in France. Men regained their position as family patriarchs with the added symbolic power of being French-speakers. However, their masculinity was threatened by the presence of French female teachers and mentors who are represented as phallic women. This project argues that the masculine representation of French female mentors, of emasculated Algerian husbands and fathers, and of the female subject torn between the two, mimic the dynamics of a transnational family. I argue that this newly formed familial interdependence, in addition to the example of the teacher as a phallic woman, may allow for the development of transnational cultural identity within the female protagonists of beur novels and films. My methodology for the project includes: close textual analysis, Lacanian psychology and Feminist theories.

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