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Access Type

Open Access

Document Type


Degree Program

French & Francophone Studies

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Maghreb, colonial, education, North Africa, representations, Francophone novel


Much work exploring alterity and hybridity in the Maghreb ignores representations of education which confront seminal formative experiences, specifically education. French colonial education was problematic because it granted access to the colonizer’s culture, yet it also created a rupture in self-identity for Maghrebi students. In this thesis, I interrogate the literary representations of sites and sources of education by analyzing how these representations discuss the tension between formal French education and informal Maghrebi education.

My thesis begins with a historical overview of colonial education in the Maghreb. I then discuss literary methods of negotiating identity, contrasting Arab and Western autobiography especially. Furthermore, I compare writing practices informed by a French education and a North African upbringing. Next, I compare formal and informal sites of education—the school, home and community—which articulate sources of alterity experienced during colonial childhood. Writers interrogate formal settings, including the school, classrooms, teachers, and examinations, and gaze upon the normative space and dominant culture which contradict that of the home. Conversely, informal settings provide subversive sources of education that resist the power structures of colonial France. These sites, including parents, the home, and community, provide an oppositional education and a means of resistance to rejected systems of power.

Both settings represent spaces of cultural confrontation that serve as both a means of betrayal as well as benefit to students. The texts I consider discuss the dynamic end of the French colonial period yet were written over a period of time that allowed for personal reflection by the authors as well as for contributions by literary critics and historians that affected the perception and comprehension of the volatile period at the end of French colonialism and the fall of the Fourth Republic.


First Advisor

Kathryn Lachman

Second Advisor

Patrick Mensah