Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Modern Languages and Literatures (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Ralph Heyndels

Second Committee Member

David Ellison

Third Committee Member

Steven Butterman

Fourth Committee Member

Eduardo Elena


This study proposes a renewed consideration of May 68 French literary production through a periodization of Modern Revolutionary Writing. The doxa advanced by the critical literature suggests the revolutionary dimensions of May 68 failed to impact substantively on cultural production in France. In the writings of Conrad Detrez, Monique Wittig, and Jean Genet, a different conclusion is reached through textual analyses of structural synchronicity and ad rem narrative interactions with the historic marker. Rethinking and critically revisiting several interpretations of the relation between France’s May 68 “revolution” and literary and cultural production, the texts at stake are read as poetical narratives resignifying the very notion of revolutionary writing as they are implicitly related to a foundational palimpsest in which the “rupture” provoked by the May 68 events plays an essential role. Central to this critical rethinking is the dialectical “translatability” (in Benjamin’s sense) of a political, social and sexual revolution into literary wording, poetics, narration and rhetoric. Specifically, the inter-semiotic translation of the mediation of sexuality and the body is analyzed through the lens of gender and queer studies, identifying and exploring the untranslatable “supplement” the operation supposes. Providing a substructure of cohesiveness and intertextuality among seemingly disparate literary works, Modern Revolutionary Writing fills a lacuna in the continual evolution of French literary criticism.


Detrez; Wittig; Genet; May 68; Revolution; New Philosophers