Contesting the Classroom

BookContesting the Classroom

Contesting the Classroom

Reimagining Education in Moroccan and Algerian Literatures

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 70


October 1st, 2022



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Contesting the Classroom is the first scholarly work to analyze both how Algerian and Moroccan novels depict the postcolonial classroom, and how postcolonial literatures are taught in Morocco and Algeria. Drawing on a corpus of contemporary novels in French and Arabic, it shows that authors imagined the fictional classroom as a pluralistic and inclusive space, often at odds with the narrow nationalist vision of postcolonial identity. Yet when authors wrote about the school, they also had to consider whether their work would be taught in schools. As this book’s original research on the teaching of literature shows, Moroccan and Algerian schools have largely failed to promote the works of local authors in public school curricula. This situation has dramatically altered literary portraits of education: novels marginalized in the public education system must creatively reimagine what pedagogy looks like and where it can take place. In illuminating a literary corpus neglected by political scientists and sociologists, Contesting the Classroom shows that novels about the school are an important source of counter-narrative about education and national identity. At the same time, by demonstrating how education has influenced writing styles, this work reframes the classroom as a necessary cultural context for scholars of postcolonial literature.

'By exploring the representation of the postcolonial classroom in a selection of Moroccan and Algerian novels, Twohig adds a significant contribution to the understanding of North African education, pedagogy, and language policies through literature. [...] Twohig’s rich and brilliant study convincingly demonstrates the centrality of literature to educational debates in Morocco and Algeria. [...] Contesting the Classroom offers a distinctive and ground-breaking analysis of the many ways in which education is thought, challenged, and reimagined in Moroccan and Algerian literatures. The book is undeniably a valuable resource for scholars of North African Studies, Arabic and Francophone literature, educational sciences as well as language policies in the Maghreb and beyond. By weaving together close readings of novels and textbooks, political and historical contextualization, and broader reflections on the social and cultural implications of the literary portraits of education, Twohig meticulously dissects and reinterprets the complexity of Moroccan and Algerian educational literature.'Khalid Lyamlahy, Bulletin of Francophone Postcolonial Studies

Author Information

Erin Twohig is an Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Georgetown University.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
A Note on Translation10
1. Troubling Memories of Colonialism36
2. Decolonizing the Classroom57
3. Education and Violence in the Black Decade81
4. Resistance in a Minority Language99
5. Satirizing Education in Crisis127
Works Cited179