Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Jeanne Garane

Abstract

This dissertation explores the work of the contemporary French-Senegalese director Alain Gomis. The director’s overarching preoccupation with the theme of postcolonial and diasporic identity puts him in direct conversation with his predecessors in postcolonial Senegalese Cinema including Ousmane Sembène and, especially, Djibril Diop Mambéty whose radical stylistic freedom Gomis builds upon. My study of Gomis’s work accordingly delves into his innovative experimentation with film form, highlighting the ways in which this mixed-race, diasporic filmmaker invites us to explore the experiences of subjects who operate within liminal spaces, or what I refer to as l’entremonde, and who challenge our conventional categories for understanding identity.

This dissertation argues that Gomis’s deployment of highly experimental, nondidactic, and non-dialogic aesthetics breaks new ground in contemporary African Cinema. Thus, with insight drawn from film theory and postcolonial studies, I conduct a close reading of Gomis’s films. I begin by investigating the ways in which Gomis mobilizes aesthetics of flânerie to explore his protagonists’ experiences of disconnection. I then expand this analysis to show how Gomis also positions the spectator to experience similar forms of dislocation through what Estrella Sendra, following Olivier Barlet, has called an aesthetic of uncertainty and discomfort. Finally, this study examines how the director ultimately provides a transnational experience of spectatorship through his weaving together of an exceptionally wide corpus of intertextual references, thereby, I argue, gesturing toward a culturally decentered mode of spectatorship.

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