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Title: Beyond melancholia : Algeria and its spectres
Author: Brisley, Lucy Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 6797
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis problematizes the recent transdisciplinary turn to melancholia by grounding the concept within the literature of three contemporary Algerian authors: Assia Djebar, Yasmina Khadra, and Boualem Sansal. If Freud figured melancholia as a pathological response to loss, much recent scholarship has reconceptualized it as an ethico-political model of remembrance that safeguards the memory of the lost or marginalized other. Yet the recent and ubiquitous depathologization of melancholia is only possible insofar as theorists overlook its more insidious elements. By analyzing how melancholia emerges within the postcolonial novels of Djebar, Khadra, and Sansal, this thesis reveals how melancholia in fact undermines an ethico-politics of remembrance, further displacing those lost others that theorists of melancholia would recuperate. Divided into two sections, the first part of the thesis thus challenges the ethico-political viability of melancholia as a mnemonic model. Through close readings of the texts, the first four chapters reveal postcolonial melancholia in Algeria to be imbricated in amnesia, immobility, repetition, victimhood, apolitical retrospection, and the unethical appropriation of the lost object. Part II investigates how the authors imagine different models of remembrance that move beyond the limits of the mourning and melancholia dyad. If melancholia has been depathologized, it nonetheless remains ensnared within a binary system in which the subject either forgets (mourns) or engages in a putative act of hyper-remembrance (melancholia). Building upon the recent theory of Dominick LaCapra, Mireille Rosello, and Judith Butler, the final two chapters explore the critical potential of ‘working upon’ the past. As an on-going and conscious model of remembrance, ‘working upon’ actively resists the closure inherent to mourning but it also circumvents the melancholic (re)appropriation of the past and its lost others. Ultimately, then, this thesis signals the need for emergent models of memorialization that move beyond the restrictions of the Freudian binary of mourning and melancholia.
Supervisor: Hiddleston, Jane Sponsor: Hasting's Senior Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: French ; Africa ; Algeria ; Francophone ; postcolonial ; Djebar ; Khadra ; Sansal ; Algerian War ; colonialism ; memory ; mourning ; melancholia ; psychoanalysis ; haunting ; spectrality