Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Comparative Literature


Ammiel Alcalay

Subject Categories

African Languages and Societies | African Studies | American Literature | Comparative Literature | Literature in English, North America | Near Eastern Languages and Societies


Albert Camus, American poetics, Charles Olson, Jean Sénac, North African literature, Poetry and resistance


The work presented here is an exploration of the poetry and life of Jean Sénac, and through Sénac, of the larger role of poetry in the political and social movements of the 50s, 60s, and early 70s, mainly in Algeria and America. While Sénac was part of the European community in Algeria, his position regarding French rule changed dramatically over the course of the Algerian War, (between 1954 and 1962) and upon independence, he became one the rare French to return to his adopted homeland. I will argue, sometimes polemically, that Sénac was and should be considered a properly Algerian poet even though he was (and in many ways still is) considered an outsider because of his European origins, because he had no particular ties to either the Arab or Berber cultures, because he was gay and more fundamentally because he was claiming the right to be an Algerian poet "who had unequivocally chosen the Algerian nation". I will also argue that there are important ties to consider between the Algerian and American poetic contexts, which illuminate the larger era of post-colonialism through the poetic expression of popular movements, which often inspired poets in their use of language and their relation to the political space poetry came to occupy.