Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Comparative Literature


Nandi Bhatia

2nd Supervisor

Late Lawson-Hellu

Joint Supervisor



My dissertation proposes to analyze the problematic of language and power in African literature written in French and English. Focusing on novels produced within the controversial contexts of La Francophonie and The Commonwealth, this thesis investigates the tight relationship between language, power and identity. By going beyond normative approaches which focus on the variations of the authorial languages inherited from colonization and nativist readings that continuously seek to establish the primacy of orality, this project analyzes how Francophone and Anglophone African writers—typically authors who chose to write in a language other than their maternal ones—write resistance. It exposes how political, cultural and identity concerns are articulated in linguistic terms. Following a discussion on the genesis of Francophone and Anglophone literature in Africa and a review of the cultural spaces brought along by La Francophonie and The Commonwealth, and drawing on theories of enunciation and plurilingualism, this study undertakes to identify the other languages in the background of the authorial French and English to subsequently analyze the relevance of the various languages’ “mise-en-texte.” Four novels are chosen as practical examples in this analysis; they are Mariama Ba’s Une si longue lettre, Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Cheikh Hamidou Kane’s L’Aventure ambiguë.

Keywords: Francophonie, Commonwealth, Postcolonialism, Francophone literature, Anglophone literature, Commonwealth literature, Enunciation, Plurilingualism, Resistance Literature.