Blankness, alienation, and the zombie in recent Francophone fiction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article examines the function of the zombie's blank gaze in recent Francophone Caribbean fiction. The word 'zombie' originally emerged in the New World during the transatlantic slave trade. In Haiti, the legendary subservient, disinterred body associated with the term serves as the materialized historical narrative of enslavement. However, even as zombies have evolved into allegories of the Duvalier regime in Haitian literature and violent 'cannibals' in North American visual culture, they are connected by their iconic vacant stare. This presumed blankness often seems to illustrate an internal emptiness. This article argues that this idea is problematized by Francophone writers such as Jacques Stephen Alexis, who critiques alienating western narratives by reimagining the zombie's vacant stare, which comes to metonymize the creature's narrative plasticity. Ultimately, the blank gaze makes a fascinating vehicle for interrogating the monster's literal and metanarrative transformations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-197
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Francophone Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Blankness
  • Gaze
  • Haitian zombie
  • Jacques Stephen Alexis
  • Metanarrative
  • René Depestre

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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