AUP graduation ceremony at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

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Exciting New Publications Penned by AUP Professors

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Professors Sneharika Roy and Russell Williams have both recently published works that explore contemporary and historic literatures, drawing new conclusions and uncovering new findings in the letters that populate our world.

In Professor Roy’s The Postcolonial Epic: From Melville to Walcott and Ghosh (Routledge, India), discover a fresh comparative theory of epic that bridges classical and postcolonial perspectives. Finding threads that weave together classical and contemporary scholarship, The Postcolonial Epic places the epic – a form traditionally marginalised in postcolonial criticism – at the heart of the post-imperial construction of the imagined community. It introduces two major comparative concepts: political epic and postcolonial epic. After this, Roy begins her re-evaluation of the post-Hegelian conception of epic as a discursively stable expression of the national totality.

In this theoretical exploration, the political epics of Valmiki, Virgil and their successors are recast as more unsettled entities in which an avowed national politics promoting a culture’s “pure” origins coexists uneasily with a disavowed poetics of intertextual borrowing from “other” cultures. This paradox allows the book’s chiasmatic argument to come into view: while the political epic employs a hybrid poetics of migration to express a monocultural politics of nation (a contradiction it must disavow), the postcolonial epic allows the genre to come full circle and deploys a migrating poetics of intertextuality to articulate a transnational politics of migration (a complementary homology it openly advertises).

Prefigured by Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and exemplified by the works of Derek Walcott and Amitav Ghosh, the postcolonial epic signals a key development in the genre. By compounding the tensions already present in political epic, it makes the tradition more amenable to contemporary explorations of the profoundly disruptive nature of colonialism. 

Meanwhile, Professor Russell Williams has co-authored a series of essays collected in Trois théories sur l’Enfer conjugal, (Descartes & Cie). Penned alongside Marcela Iacub and Hervé Le Bras, sociologists at the Parisian École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, these essays explore the work of writers Franz Kafka and Michel Houellebecq as well as the philosophy of Charles Fourier. The essays develop and consider three theories concerning the status of marriage in contemporary society.

Williams’ chapter, “Comment vivre ensemble, selon Houellebecq,” considers how the notorious l’enfant horrible of contemporary French literature formulates a consistent theory of gender relations in his novels –  from his 1994 novel debut Extension du domaine de la lutte (published in English as Whatever) to his most recent work Soumission (Submission), a scintillating novel published in 2015 whose reception in France provoked a heated political debate.

Williams argues that Houellebecq analyses marriage as an impossible ideal in his work, which he sees damaged by the incessant march of consumer capitalism and ‘emancipatory’ politics, resulting in his fiction’s repeated images of solitude, depression and sexual frustration.

Look out for these new publications by AUP faculty Sneharika Roy and Russell Williams in the AUP library, online or wherever you get your books.

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