Oana Panaïté

Photo of Oana Panaïté

Associate Professor of French
Director of Graduate Studies, French/Francophone Studies

opanaite@indiana.edu | (812) 855-1134 | GA 3164

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Research Areas

20th and 21st literature in French from Europe, the Caribbean, North-Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa; aesthetics, politics and the institutions of literature (literary history, literary criticism and theory; the “segregation” of Francophone and French literary fields); postcolonial and transfrontier approaches to literature


  • PhD, Romance Literatures and Languages, The Johns Hopkins University, 2005
  • Docteur ès Lettres, U.F.R. de Littérature française et comparée, Université Paris IV-Sorbonne, 2004.
  • Pensionnaire roumaine de l'École Normale Supérieure (Rue d'Ulm). 1996-1998.


In my first book, Des littératures-mondes en français. Écritures singulières, poétiques transfrontalières dans la prose contemporaine (Rodopi Press, Amsterdam/New York, 2012), I analyze contemporary fiction produced by twenty writers from metropolitan France, the French Overseas Departments (e.g. Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Mauritius) and countries formerly under French colonial rule (e.g. Haiti, Algeria, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in order to show how writers and texts from different national, political and cultural backgrounds engage with similar transfrontier themes such as filiation and heritage, memory and identity, and the formation of diffracted contemporary subjects.

The Colonial Fortune in Contemporary French-Language Fiction (Liverpool University Press, 2017) originated in an observation: the subtle yet persistent presence of the colonial in narratives not directly concerned with colonial history or issues such as immigration, multiculturalism or neocolonialism. My book highlights the features of a paracolonial aesthetics emanating from a significant body of contemporary Hexagonal and non-metropolitan texts. Authored by writers who are either directly involved in the debate about the colonial past and its remanence (J. M. G. Le Clézio, Paule Constant, Édouard Glissant, Tierno Monénembo, Marie NDiaye, and Leïla Sebbar) or who do not overtly manifest such concerns (Stéphane Audeguy, Marie Darrieussecq, Régis Jauffret, Pierre Michon, and Claude Simon), these works create a shared imaginary space permeated by the symbolic, rhetorical, and conceptual presence colonialism in our postcolonial era. The paracolonial describes the phenomena of revival, resurgence, remanence, and residue – in other words, the permanence of the colonial in contemporary imagination. It also addresses the re-imagining, revisiting, and recasting of the colonial in current works of literature (fiction, autobiography, and essay). The idea of the colonial fortune emerges as an interface between our era’s concerns with issues of fate, economics, legacy, and debt stemming from the understudied persistence of the colonial in today’s political and cultural conversation, and literature’s ways of making sense of them both sensorially and sensibly.

My next project, entitled De la lettre morte au tombeau littéraire, is dedicated to the paradigm shift in contemporary fiction from narratives that thematize the impossibility of literary and even verbal representation generated by historical traumas such as the Holocaust, slavery, genocide, torture and war (Marguerite Duras, Édouard Glissant, Gérard Étienne, and Linda Lê) to the construction of monumental narratives that reactivate the Renaissance model of the “tombeau littéraire” (Alexis Jenni, Patrick Chamoiseau, and Assia Djebar).

Selected Publications


Edited Volumes

Articles and book chapters [* = refereed]

  • “Archives”. Postcolonial Realms of Memory. Edited by Étienne Achille, Charles Forsdick, and Lydie Moudileno. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. Forthcoming.
  • “Une poétique de l’inscriptible: Patrick Chamoiseau et le tombeau littéraire contemporain”. Patrick Chamoiseau et la mer des récits. Edited by Pierre Soubias and Delphine Rameau. Bordeaux: Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux. Forthcoming 2017. Print.
  • “Writing (as) Africans: French Fiction between Empathy and Orientalism”. Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies. 2015-2016. Vol. 2, Issue 3-4. P. 84-93. Print and web.
  • “Mondialisation culturelle et mondialité poétique chez Dany Laferrière”. Interculturel Francophonies, Nov.-Dec. 2016. No 30. P. 197-211. Print.
  • “Introduction.” Reading Communities : A Dialogical Approach to French and Francophone Literature/Communautés de lecture: pour une approche dialogique des œuvres classiques et contemporaines. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2016. P. 1-5. Print and web.
  • “‘Roiseau Pensant’”: Marie NDiaye and Blaise Pascal.” With Hall Bjørnstad. Reading Communities: A Dialogical Approach to French and Francophone Literature/Communautés de lecture: pour une approche dialogique des œuvres classiques et contemporaines. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2016. P. 154-167. Print and web.
  • “Tombeaux littéraires contemporains”. Pour un récit transnational : la fiction au défi de l'histoire immédiate. Edited by Yolaine Parisot et Charline Pluvinet. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes. 2016. P. 101-119. Print.
  • "Destination, Destiny and Paracolonial Aesthetics in Le Clézio’s Révolutions". SITES: Contemporary French and Francophone Studies. March 2015. Vol. 19. Issue 2. P. 215-223. Print.
  • “Étrangèreté, non-savoir et écritures transfrontalières: Hélène Cixous, Nina Bouraoui et Leïla Sebbar”. Modern Language Notes. September 2014. Vol. 129. Issue 4. P. 796-811. Print.
  • "La pensée littéraire entre précarité et potentialité". *L’Esprit créateur. Journal of French and Francophone Studies. Fall 2014. Vol. 54. No 3. P. 1-13. Print.
  • "Crise du français, impact de la francophonie?". Alternative Francophone. Vol. 1, No 7 (2014). P. 1-11. Web.
  • "La querelle des bibliothèques ou la gêne de la critique française face à la littérature en français". Nouvelles Études Francophones. Vol. 28. No 2. 2013. P. 145-161. Print.
  • "Le retour du contreauteur". Lire contre l'auteur. Edited by Sophie Rabau. Presses Universitaires de Vincennes. 2012. P. 67-85. Print.
  • "How Not To Speak of Books You Can’t Ignore". *Romance Notes. Vol. 52. No 3. 2012. P. 279-287. Print.
  • "'La race des fils'. Atavisme fictif et autorité littéraire". L'Autorité en littérature. Exercice, partage, contestation. Edited by Emmanuel Bouju. Presses Universitaires de Rennes. 2010. P. 211-221. Print.
  • "Poétiques de récupération, poétiques de créolisation". *Littérature nº 151 (3/2008). P. 52-74. Print.
  • “La discipline du refus. Sur le formalisme des écrivains”. L’Esprit créateur. Journal of French and Francophone Studies. Vol. 48. No 2. 2008. P. 60-73. Print.
  • “Gustave Lanson et Marcel Schwob. Anachronies contemporaines”. Dix-Neuf. Journal of the Society of Dix-Neuviémistes. No 10. April 2008. P. 35-46. Web.
  • “‘La race des fils’. Atavisme fictif et autorité littéraire”. L’Autorité en littérature. Exercice, partage, contestation. Edited by Emmanuel Bouju. Presses Universitaires de Rennes. 2010. P. 211-221. Print.
  • Les fins de l’écriture. Réflexion et pratique du style dans les œuvres de Pierre Michon et Jean Echenoz”. French Forum. Spring 2006. Vol. 31. No 2. P. 95-110. Print.
  • “Fiction au conditionnel. L’essai romanesque de Jean Echenoz”. Études littéraires. Vol. 37. No 2. 2006. P. 171-182. Print.

Courses Taught

  • What Can Literature Do?
  • Vivre, c’est choisir: Living, Loving and Fighting under the Nazi Occupation and the Vichy Régime
  • "Réécrire, désécrire : les textes contemporains et la tradition littéraire"
  • The Colonial Imagination in French Literature and Film
  • Blue, White and Red : Seeing the World Through French Eyes
  • "The Colonial Fortune: Literature, Education, and Ideology in Early 20th Century France"
  • "The French Exception"
  • "Scandalous Books"
  • Êtres de papier. Le personnage littéraire au XXe siècle
  • The Trouble with Literature. Issues in Literary Theory
  • The Politics of Writing from Franz Fanon to édouard Glissant
  • Les Femmes dans la littérature française
  • Voyages et aventures
  • La littérature et les arts dans l'œuvre de Patrick Chamoiseau

Honors, Fellowships, and Awards

  • Vice-President of Conseil International d’Études Francophones. 2017-2019.
  • Organizing Committee Coordinator for the 37th International Colloquium in 20th and 21st-Century French and Francophone Studies “Le Sens et les sens/Sense and the Senses”. Indiana University. April 6-8, 2017.
  • “Arts of Survival. Recasting Lives in African Cities” Summer Institute for College and Universities. National Endowment for Humanities Grant. Faculty Co-Convener. Indiana University. 2016.
  • Trustees' Teaching Award. Indiana University. 2014-2015.
  • Individual Research Award. Institute for Advance Study. Indiana University. 2014.
  • Member (2014-2015; 2017) and Chair (2015) of the Modern Language Association Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Studies Selection Committee.
  • Chaire des Amériques Visiting Professor. Institut des Amériques. Université de Haute-Bretagne – Rennes 2. Fall 2013.
  • Summer Stipend Office of the Vice Provost for Research Indiana University. 2013.
  • US Representative Member of the Executive Board (Conseil d'Administration) of Conseil International d'Études Francophones (CIÉF). Elected to a three-year term. 2010-2013.
  • "Memory and Civic Contention" Fellowship. Center for the Study of History and Memory. Indiana University. 2012-2013.
  • College Arts and Humanities Institute Travel Research Grant. Indiana University. 2012.
  • Prix de la Francophonie des Amériques (Best Presentation Award). Conseil International d' Études Francophones et Centre de la Francophonie des Amériques. New Orleans. June 2009.
  • College Arts and Humanities Institute Faculty Fellowship. Indiana University.
  • Arts & Humanities New Perspectives Grant. Indiana University.
  • Research Fellowship at école des Hautes études en Sciences Sociales (Paris). Johns Hopkins University.
  • Pensionnaire roumaine de l'école Normale Supérieure (rue d'Ulm).
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