Contemporary French Civilization

The 7th Lawrence R. Schehr Memorial Award Winning Essay

Masculinity, recognition, and genealogy through musico-literary intermediality in Insa Sané’s Du plomb dans le crâne et Daddy est mort…

Contemporary French Civilization (2021), 46, (1), 1–25.

Abstract

Popular music abounds in Afropean literature, yet to date scholars have primarily read novels’ musical elements through author biography. In this article, I focus narrowly on the rich musical peritexts and musico-literary intermediality of two novels by Insa Sané: Du plomb dans le crâne (2008) and Daddy est mort…: Retour à Sarcelles (2010). In addition to the abundant diegetic musical references, both novels also feature two structural musical layers. I argue that these three musical elements constitute critical sites through which the novels’ narratives, which center around young, black, male protagonists who seek to escape vicious circles of violence through recognition, emerge. Ultimately, these novels’ musical elements situate the narratives’ discussions of black masculinity within much broader conversations transpiring between French and African American communities, thereby providing a much larger cultural genealogy to supplement the characters’ fraught literal ones.

La musique populaire est abondante dans la littérature afropéenne, cependant les spécialistes en littérature afropéenne ont tendance à attribuer cette dimension formelle des romans à des aspects de la biographie des écrivains. Dans le présent article, je propose d’analyser deux romans par Insa Sané: Du plomb dans le crâne (2008) and Daddy est mort…: Retour à Sarcelles (2010), qui, en dehors des références diégétiques musicales, sont marqués par de riches péritextes musicaux et par l’intermédialité musico-littéraire. J’avance l’idée que ces éléments formels d’intermédialité complètent le récit de ces romans, qui tournent autour de jeunes protagonistes noirs qui cherchent à s’échapper des cercles vicieux de violence par des actes de reconnaissance. En fin de compte, ces éléments musicaux ajoutent une dimension transnationale aux discussions de la masculinité noire des deux romans, fournissant ainsi toute une généalogie culturelle, bien plus étendue, qui vient compléter celle des protagonistes.

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Author details

Knox, Katelyn