A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows

John Nimis

Department of French and Italian

Humanizing African Voices: Music, Literature and ‘World'

Nimis’s project responds to the persistent portrayals of Africa in Western discourse as obscure, ineffable and illegible, instead seeking strategies for articulating Africa-centered hermeneutics, in order to “translate,” or make “legible” the rich and vibrant cultural expressions of modern African culture. Based on the analysis of African texts and their contexts, and focusing on the theme of globality and the various senses of “world” produced by these texts, this research aims not only to allow African texts to “speak,” but also to critically re-examine the roles of music, literature, and cinema in the context of modern African culture. By consciously transgressing Western-defined disciplinary boundaries, it proposes alternative perspectives on globalness and “world,” in order to challenge and thereby enrich current theories of globalization, as well as theories of reading and listening.

John Nimis received his PhD in French from New York University. His main research interest is the literature and music of Central Africa, with a focus on the Lingala language and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he was a Fulbright scholar. His dissertation, entitled “Literary Listening: Readings in Congolese Popular Music” presents musical and literary analyses of songs in French and Lingala. Before coming to Madison, he taught for one year in the Department of French at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and spent one year in Johannesburg, South Africa based at the University of Witswatersrand. He holds degrees from Macalester College (BA, Physics), the University of Michigan Ann Arbor (MM, piano performance) and Miami University (MA, French). Secondary research areas include South Africa, Francophone North Africa, literature and music in the 19th Century, and early modern France.



Fall 2010: Masterpieces of French Literature in Translation

Spring 2011: Literature of Modernity

Fall 2010: Modernismes Francophones