Computers and the Humanities

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 353–367 | Cite as

The female voice and traditional discourse biases: The case of francophone African literature

  • Beverley Ormerod
  • Jean-Marie Volet
  • Hélène Jaccomard


This study reports on a statistical approach to Francophone African literature, addressing the issues of discourse bias and the specificity of female writing as against male. The research is based on a comparison of all the characters present in 20 novels written by male and female African authors, under the headings of importance, power and attitude. It suggests that a number of significant differences characterize the make-up of novels written by African female and male authors.

Key words

African literature francophone literature feminist criticism sexism female voice discourse bias literary statistics novels characters 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Burrows, John. “‘An Ocean Where Each Kind...’: Statistical Analysis and some Major Determinants of Literary Style.”Computers and the Humanities, 23 (1989), 309–21.Google Scholar
  2. Burrows, John. “Computers and the Study of Literature.” InComputers and Written Texts. Ed. Christopher Butler. Oxford, Blackwell, in press.Google Scholar
  3. Close, Elizabeth. “La Presse et les femmes: Madame le Directeur ou Madame la Directrice.”Australian Journal of French Studies, 30-1 (1993), 116–41.Google Scholar
  4. Colonna, Vincent.L'Autofiction, essai de la fictionnalisation de soi en littérature. Unpublished Doctoral thesis. 2 vol. Paris: Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, n.d.Google Scholar
  5. Fournier, Hanna and Delbert Russell. “A Study of Sex-Role Stereotyping in the Oxford English Dictionary 2E.”Computers and the Humanities, 26 (1992), 13–20.Google Scholar
  6. Gershuny, H. Lee. “Sexism in Dictionaries and Texts: Omissions and Commissions.” InSexism and Language. Eds. Alleen Pace Nilsenet al. Urbana: National Council of Teachers of English, 1977, pp. 143–60.Google Scholar
  7. Glaudes, Pierre and Yves Reuter, eds.Personnage et histoire littéraire. Actes du colloque de Toulouse, mai 1990. Toulouse: Presses Universitaires du Mirail, 1991.Google Scholar
  8. Hamon, Philippe.Le Personnel du roman. Le système des personnages dans les Rougon-Macquart d'Emile Zola. Genève: Droz, 1983.Google Scholar
  9. Hughes, Sarah. “Beyond Eurocentrism: Developing World Women's Studies.”Feminist Studies, 18, 2 (1992), 389–404.Google Scholar
  10. Irizarry, Estelle. “A Computer-Assisted Investigation of Gender-Related Idiolect in Octavio Paz and Rosario Castellanos.”Computers and the Humanities, 26 (1992), 103–17.Google Scholar
  11. Kolodny, Annette. “Dancing Through the Minefield: Some Observations on Theory, Practice, and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism.” InThe New Feminist Criticism. Ed. Elaine Showalter. New York: Pantheon, 1985, pp. 144–67.Google Scholar
  12. Mazrui, Ali. “The Black Woman and the Problem of Gender: An African Perspective.”Research in African Literatures, 24-1 (1993), 87–104.Google Scholar
  13. Merideth, Eunice. “Gender Patterns in Henry James: A Stylistic Approach to Dialogue inDaisy Miller, The Portrait of a Lady, andThe Bostonians.” InLiterary Computing and Literary Criticism. Ed. Rosanne G. Potter. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989, pp. 189–206.Google Scholar
  14. Miller, Casey and Kate Swift.Words and Women: New Language in New Times. New York: Doubleday & Anchor, 1976.Google Scholar
  15. Nnaemeka, Obioma. “Mariama Bâ: Parallels, Convergence, and Interior Space.”Feminist Issues, 10, 1 (1990), 13–36.Google Scholar
  16. Ogundipe-Leslie, Molara. “Beyond Hearsay and Academic Journalism: The Black Woman and Ali Mazrui.”Research in African Literatures, 24, 1 (1993), 105–12.Google Scholar
  17. Ormerod, Beverley and Jean-Marie Volet.Romancières africaines d'expression française: le sud du Sahara. Paris: L'Harmattan, 1994.Google Scholar
  18. Owusu, Kofi. “Canons under Siege: Blackness, Femaleness, and Ama Ata Aidoo'sOur Sister Killjoy.”Callaloo, 13 (1990), 341–61.Google Scholar
  19. Potter, Rosanne. “Computer-assisted Research on Literary Texts, the Problem of ‘Messy Data Sets’.” InLa Critique littéraire et l'ordinateur — Literary Criticism and the Computer. Eds. Bernard Derval and Michel Lenoble. [Saint-Laurent, Ile de Montréal], Bernard Derval-Michel Lenoble, 1985, pp. 95–110.Google Scholar
  20. Potter, Rosanne. “From Literary Output to Literary Criticism: Discovering Shaw's Rhetoric.”Computers and the Humanities, 23 (1989), 333–40.Google Scholar
  21. Sellers, Susan.Language and Sexual Difference: Feminist Writing in France. London: Macmillan, 1991.Google Scholar
  22. Shen, Yichin. “Womanhood and Sexual Relation in Contemporary Chinese Fiction by Male and Female Authors: A Comparative Analysis.”Feminist Issues, 12, 1 (1992), 47–68.Google Scholar
  23. Spender, Dale.The Writing or the Sex? or Why You Don't Have to Read Women's Writing to Know It's No Good. New York: Pergamon, 1989.Google Scholar
  24. Tannen, Deborah.You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. New York: William Morrow, 1990.Google Scholar
  25. Trudeau, Danielle. “Changement social et changement linguistique: la question féminine.”The French Review, 62 (1988), 77–87.Google Scholar
  26. Volet, Jean-Marie. “Francophone African Women Novelists from sub-Saharan Africa: Rescuing French Literature from terminal Boredom?”New Researcher, 1/2 (1992), 92–111.Google Scholar
  27. West, Lois. “Feminist National Social Movements: Beyond Universalism and Towards a Gender Cultural Relativism.”Women's Studies International Forum, 15, 5/6 (1992), 563–79.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beverley Ormerod
    • 1
  • Jean-Marie Volet
    • 1
  • Hélène Jaccomard
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Western AustraliaNedlandsWestern Australia

Personalised recommendations