Worth the Meddle

How Community and Literary Engagement Derailed Colonial Exploitation

in Sartre Studies International
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  • 1 Master's of Arts, French & Francophone Studies, Department of European Studies, San Diego State University, USA
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This article presents a (post)colonial literary analysis of Ousmane Sembène's God's Bits of Wood [1960, Les bouts de bois de Dieu], vis-à-vis Jean-Paul Sartre's “hexagonal cadre” for littérature engagée outlined in “What is Literature?” and “Black Orpheus.” Sembène's novel evinces both a model of African committed writing and a nuanced (post)colonial embellishment and extension of Sartrean orthodoxy, whose requisites include: [1] genre and style; [2] audience; [3] risk; [4] situational critique; [5] ontological inquiry; and [6] existential themes. This article identifies these features in Sembène's novel in general, and in the stand-alone chapter on the character Sounkare specifically.

Contributor Notes

Danielle Cervantes Stephens graduated in Fall 2021 with a Master's of Arts in French & Francophone Studies in the Department of European Studies at San Diego State University. Her most recent research has focused on existentialism, littérature engagée, the Enlightenment, (post)colonial criticism, and gender theory. She is applying to doctoral programs in French literature, philosophy and criticism. After an award-winning career as an investigative reporter at The San Diego Union-Tribune and non-profits inewsource and InquireFirst, Danielle has taught investigative journalism at her alma mater, Point Loma Nazarene University, since 2007. She has degrees in political science and literature with emphases in women's studies and French.