Lecture—Jacques Coursil “Négritude: The Grammar of Caliban”


As part of the cycle entitledPoétiques d’écrivains: Césaire, Fanon, Glissant, Frankétienne,” Jacques Coursil will deliver the lecture “Négritude: La grammaire de Caliban” [Négritude: The Grammar of Caliban] on January 14, 2020, at 7:00pm, at Maison de l’Amérique latine (located at 217 Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris, France). [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.]

The two poets Léopold Sédar Senghor and Aimé Césaire, who both coined the word négritude in the 1930s, are both grammarians (this is important) and unfailing friends: Césaire loved to say, “Senghor revealed to me a part of myself.” However, the négritude of which they share authorship both distinguishes them and places them at opposite sides. In his preface of Anthologie de la Poésie nègre et malgache by L. Senghor (Orphée Noir, 1948), Jean-Paul Sartre first noted this. He wrote, “A strange and decisive turn, race (Senghor’s négritude) is transmuted into historicity (Césaire’s négritude).” This clarification was not enough. Today, after three quarters of a century, the myth of race, particular to the négritude of Senghor, has practically obscured the historical subject of Césaire; in other words, “race” (the essence) has repressed history. Starting in the 1950s, many resounding post-négritude texts appeared, produced by writers such as René Depestre, Frantz Fanon, Édouard Glissant, Maryse Condé, Wole Soyinka, and several others. It is their critique that is at stake here, because a surpassing of négritude can sometimes be simply an unrevealed continuation of the underlying Césaire-based features that founded the term.

Jacques Coursil is Professor Emeritus of the University of the Antilles [Université des Antilles]. He has also taught at Cornell University, University of California-Irvine, and the University of Caen. He is Doctor of Letters and Doctor of Science. Coursil was awarded the Édouard Glissant Prize in 2017 for his entire corpus of work. He is author of many articles in literary criticism, such as La fonction muette du langage in 2000 (Ibis Rouge, Guadeloupe), Valeurs pures in 2015 (Lambert-Lucas, Limoges), and Le Paradoxe francophone (in progress).
Translated by Ivette Romero. For the originals (in French), see http://www.mal217.org/fr/agenda/jacques-coursil and http://www.tout-monde.com

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