Title page for ETD etd-08302011-121158

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Vance, Carla Bota
URN etd-08302011-121158
Title The Hegemony of Language - Literary Writing and the Quest for Subjectivity in the Works of Michel de Montaigne and Charles Ferdinand Ramuz
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department French Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Leupin, Alexandre Committee Chair
Ngandu, Pius Committee Member
Stone, Gregory Committee Member
Yeager, Jack Committee Member
Risk, Kevin Dean's Representative
  • Michel de Montaigne
  • Charles Ferdinand Ramuz
  • language
  • the Self and the Other
  • postcolonial theory
Date of Defense 2011-08-04
Availability unrestricted
Starting from the premise that one’s identity is first and foremost construed in language, this dissertation argues that language is the fundamental site of resistance for writers who define themselves through linguistic difference. Recognizing also that language and literary production frequently fall under the control of complex authorities, this thesis examines literature as a site where confrontation is played out aesthetically. Literary writing, in other words, is exposed as a point of intersection between writers whose language draws its sources from a peripheral location and the centers of authority that regulate and dictate what is accepted as artistically and culturally valuable. Read as such, at the core of literary writing, we find nothing less than the Self and the Other engaged in a competing struggle for affirmation.

The two authors considered in this study are Michel de Montaigne and Charles Ferdinand Ramuz. By going as far back in history as the French Renaissance and then shifting focus to the Swiss francophone, this project explores historical processes and literary creation from the viewpoint of relationships of hegemony and resistance that call to mind the conceptual definitions of postcolonial theory. Reading Michel de Montaigne and Charles Ferdinand Ramuz through a postcolonial theoretical lens, this dissertation reveals that power dynamics, imbalanced power relations, and struggles over cultural control can be discerned in other settings than those most frequently associated with postcolonial theory.

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