2012 Theses Doctoral
Migrant Textuality: On the fields of Aimé Césaire's Et les chiens se taisaient
With the discovery of the earliest known manuscript version of Et les chiens se taisaient, we learn that Césaire had started thinking about the theater earlier than had been assumed, and most important, that he had originally envisioned this work as a historical drama based on the Haitian Revolution. “Migrant Textuality” explores the several versions and fragments of the play—from the manuscript to its last authorial instantiation in OEuvres Complètes in 1976—in order to shed light on the author’s troubled relationship with the history the play refers to and the historical circumstances of its production, and to outline a topology of the many migrations of text and documents in this monumental work. The first chapter reconstructs the genesis of the manuscript by careful analysis of the textual and material evidence. The second chapter grounds the first generic shift evinced by the work, from manuscript to the first published version in the poetry collection Les Armes miraculeuses, in the context of authorial responses to shifting editorial environments in the American hemisphere. The third chapter, “Legology,” departs from the particularity of the text to theorize textual blocks in general. The fourth chapter advocates for a form of reading that oscillates between macro- and microscopic approaches, using the topologies created in the previous chapter as proof-of-concept. The critical/digital work of the dissertation lays the foundation for a future digital edition of Césaire’s powerful poetic study of the radical anti-colonial rebel.
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More About This Work
A dissertation presented to the Graduate Faculty of the University of Virginia in Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Department of English. December, 2012