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Genre, heteroglossic performances, and new identity: Stand-up comedy in modern French society

  • Cécile B. Vigouroux (a1)

Abstract

This article analyses the ways in which stand-up comedy has been taken up by French comics of North and sub-Saharan African origins as a space of visibility and hearability. Following Bakhtin (1986), who argues that a genre reflects the social changes taking place in a society, I argue that such an appropriation should be considered as an important sociolinguistic fact that gives us privileged access to Hexagonal France's contemporary sociopolitical dynamics. I show that through their display of heteroglossic repertoires (viz. Maghrebi Arabic, several varieties of vernacular French, Hexagonal standard French, mesolectal African French, stylized chunks of English) comics challenge, at least symbolically, France's monoglot and highly centralized linguistic ideology. They also contribute to unsettling France's Republican model, which is marked by the institutional denial of the social and cultural diversity of the French population. The comics use heteroglossic resources to align with and disalign from multiple chronotopes associated with different social personae. From this emerges a new identity, urban, which both encompasses and transcends racial and ethnic categories. By contrast, I show that this identity is constructed through and received by the nonratified audience with ambivalence. (France, stand-up comedy, genre, urban, identity, chronotope, intertextuality.)*

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Genre, heteroglossic performances, and new identity: Stand-up comedy in modern French society

  • Cécile B. Vigouroux (a1)

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