Associate Professor of French Jennifer Howell will speak November 22 at The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) at the University of Oxford about her book, The Algerian War in French-Language Comics: Postcolonial Memory, History, and Subjectivity (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2015).
In her talk, Howell will explore the ways in which the decolonization of Algeria represents a turning point in world history, marking the end of France’s colonial empire, the birth of the Algerian republic, and the appearance of the Third World and Pan-Arabism. She argues that the Algerian war of national liberation constitutes an inescapable reference for today’s global citizen. Students and educators must recognize the broader implications of the Algerian War and adopt innovative pedagogical practices to identify and learn from historical misrepresentation. These objectives are imperative given the West’s misunderstanding and mischaracterization of Islam and the Muslim-majority world.
In her book, which is conceived as a case study, Howell argues that comics provide an alternative to textbook representations of the Algerian War in France because they draw from many of the same source materials yet produce narratives that are significantly different. Throughout her talk, Howell will demonstrate that although comics rely on conventional vectors of memory transmission like national education, the family, and mainstream media, they can also create new and productive dialogues using these same vectors in ways unavailable to traditional textbooks. From this perspective, these comics are an effective and alternative way to develop a more inclusive social consciousness.