WRITING OTHER TIMES: ON POSTCOLONIAL TEMPORALITIES IN VIETNAMESE FRANCOPHONE AND FIL-HISPANIC NOVELS
Pham, Vinh Phu
This dissertation attempts to think about time in the postcolonial novel, or what I call postcolonial temporality, which refers to both the conception of time, in relation historical progress—as perceived by its authors—as well as the time period in which a literary text is written and circulated, in conjunction with its country’s sociopolitical development. The central concern that prompted and animated this investigation is “Why do we read certain literatures and not others?” Of course, these other literatures I am referring to are works from the Vietnamese Francophone and Fil-Hispanic(Philippine literature in Spanish) traditions, which are often overlooked both in their respective countries, as well as in literature programs in the United States where these bodies of literature still remain marginal. Throughout this work, I argue that central to the question of why these works are not read, is a periodizing tendency from readers and academics to align literatures from postcolonial countries with the development of the nationalist state. Because of this temporal conception of the development of national literatures, works stemming from these countries that do not fit under market descriptions, or align with the outside conception of the country’s progress, are devalued and regarded anachronistic or aesthetically retroactive. Such is the case with Vietnamese Francophone and Fil-Hispanic literature, where the two countries’ social development have left these literatures without a viable readership. Beyond this practical obstacle towards readership, however, I also make the case that because of an implicit demand from politically left-leaning, postcolonial academics, postcolonial literary oeuvres that do not advance a concrete revolutionary or decolonial narrative are often sidelined, such as with the novels I investigate. Here, “Writing Other Times” refers to the way that Vietnamese Francophone and Fil-Hispanic authors utilize the former colonial European languages to address and contest colonial history, social displacement, and liberation from neocolonialism. Through the readings of Anna Moï, Linda Lê, Kim Lefèvre, Pham Duy Khiêm, Antonio Abad, and Jesús Balmori, I argue for a broader conception of the historical timeline in which these literatures are produced, as well as a more contextually based reading of how each narrative regards and situates itself within its country’s national formation. For me, to adequately appreciate these works it is necessary to think of postcolonial temporality as an other time that is parallel, adjacent, and antithetical to the development of the unitary cultural space as encapsulated by the nation state. Ultimately, this work aims to think about how we might listen to others and understand how they think of themselves, visions that, to me, are all dependent on not just another place, but of another time.
fil-hispanic; Francophone; postcolonial; temporality; Trauma; Vietnamese
Bachner, Andrea S.
Melas, Natalie; Caruth, Cathy
Ph. D., Comparative Literature
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis