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 French-language writing in France, the Caribbean, North-Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa; literary theory; the poetics and politics of fiction; 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-Sorbonne (Paris IV), 2004


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 transfrontier themes such as filiation and heritage, memory and identity, and the formation of diffracted contemporary subjects.

My current projects include two monographs and two edited volumes.

The Colonial Fortune in Contemporary French-Language Fiction (completed manuscript) 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. In works written by metropolitan writers, such as Claude Simon, Pierre Michon, Laurent Gaudé, Stéphane Audeguy, Régis Jauffret or Marie Darrieussecq, the reader is surprised to discover references to colonial or postcolonial history, geography, and civilization. These references are disseminated throughout the narrative and dialogues and discreetly woven into the fabric of the authorial discourse. In colonial fortune writings, the colonial figure - a trope, an event or a scene - appears both peripheral, that is ex-centric, far from the textual center and the narrative core, and liminal as a transitional object for the narrator's biographical act and a threshold for the scriptor's entrance into the realm of literature. I argue that colonial fortune writings, though distinct in style, thematic concerns, and ideological stances, share a number of discursive and narrative features crystallized around the proprioceptive and remanent dimensions of the colonial.

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

  • "La Pensée littéraire/The Idea of Literature". Special issue of the journal *L’Esprit créateur. Journal of French and Francophone Studies. Fall 2014. Vol. 54. No 3. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/554231
  • "Crise du français, impact de la francophonie?".Alternative Francophone. Vol. 1, No 7 (2014). Special issue co-edited with Timo Obergöker (University of Chester). http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/af/article/view/23049/pdf_1
  • Communautés de lecture : pour une approche dialogique des œuvres classiques et contemporaines/Readin Communities. A Dialogical Approach to French and Francophone Literature. Cambridge Scholars, 2016. http://www.cambridgescholars.com/reading-communities
  • Entre-Textes. Dialogues littéraires et culturels. Anthology based on a dialogical study of classical and contemporary texts. (co-edited with Vera Klekovkina, University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point). London: Routledge. Forthcoming 2017. Print and web.


  • "Tombeaux littéraires contemporains". Récits du temps présent : la fiction face à l'histoire immédiate.Edited by Yolaine Parisot et Charline Pluvinet. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes. 2015. P. 101-119. 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.
  • "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.
  • "Crise du français, impact de la francophonie?". Alternative Francophone. Vol. 1, No 7 (2014). P. 1-11. Web.
  • "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.
  • "La querelle des bibliothèques ou la gêne de la critique française face à la littérature en français". *Nouvelles Écritures francophones. Vol. 28. No 2. 2013. P. 145-161. Print.
  • "Patrick Chamoiseau et le ‘bâillement’ sans fin de la mémoire créole" in Enjeux identitaires dans l'imaginaire francophone. Edited by Sélom K. Gbanou and Kanaté Dahouda. Trier : WVT Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2013. P. 93-109. Print.
  • "How Not To Speak of Books You Can’t Ignore". *Romance Notes. Vol. 52. No 3. 2012. P. 279-287. Print.
  • "Le retour du contreauteur". Lire contre l'auteur. Edited by Sophie Rabau. Presses Universitaires de Vincennes. 2012. P. 67-85. 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.

Courses Taught

  • "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

  • Trustees' Teaching Award. Indiana University. 2014-2015. Individual Research Award. Institute for Advance Study. Indiana University. 2014-2015.
  • Individual Research Award. Institute for Advance Study. Indiana University. 2014.
  • Member (2014-2016) 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 des 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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