Visiting Assistant Professor of French Rebecca Loescher recently presented her research at an invited talk for Colgate University’s Arts and Humanities Colloquium Series. In her talk, titled “Twisted Roots: The French Caribbean as a Model for Relational Storytelling,” Loescher discussed creolization in the French Caribbean as a socio-linguistic and historic process that has given way to a theory of identity as being “multi-rooted,” rather than “single-rooted.”
She presented narrative representations of such multi-rootedness in late twentieth-century literature from the French Caribbean and discussed their importance as models for telling stories about group and individual identities. More importantly, Loescher argued, tales of creolization also perform multi-rootedness, modeling storytelling as a relational process.
Examining narrative composition in five contemporary novels from across the Francophone world, she discussed relational poetics in components like polyvocality, ambiguous temporality, disjointed structures, and the multi-perspectival. Relational narratives, Loescher concluded, require us to sift through the multiple, to navigate the contradictory and the uncertain, and to draw unexpected parallels. They shift our attention away from plot and onto the process of putting-into-relation through which we come to understand that plot—in short, they teach us to make meaning despite and within the open-endedness of the multi-root structure.