Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


French & Italian

First Advisor

Warren Motte

Second Advisor

Elisabeth Arnould-Bloomfield

Third Advisor

Lydie Moudileno

Fourth Advisor

Brian Quinn

Fifth Advisor

Nabil Echchaibi


This dissertation examines the ways in which postcolonial Francophone novels use the concept of disappearance to make sense of contemporary experience. I study that trope with the aim of understanding how the political pasts of Algeria, France, and Morocco, changing notions of subjectivity, new, globalized socio-economic realities, and unstable forms of individual and social identity contribute to a present-day “structure of experience” where disappearance defines one’s mode of being in the world. The dissertation investigates four novels—Georges Perec’s La disparition (1969), Mahi Binebine’s Les funerailles du lait (1994), Tahar Ben Jelloun’s Partir (2006), and Assia Djebar’s La disparition de la langue française (2003)—in order to outline the nature and consequences of that mode of being and its connection to contemporary issues such as migration, trauma, the body, memory, and sexuality, and nation.