Victor Hugo’s Bug-Jargal in Early American Studies


Panel organizer: Jonathan Senchyne, Cornell University/ Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison [beginning Aug 2012]


French novelist Victor Hugo, better known for novels such as Les Miserables and Notre-Dame de Paris, published his Bug-Jargal first as a short story in 1820 and then as a novel in 1826.  The novel tells the story of an enslaved African prince and a French military officer during the Haitian Revolution.  With the publication of a Broadview Edition English translation of Bug-Jargal in 2004, the novel is newly available for scholars and teachers, and its republication also coincides with renewed interest from Early Americanists in narratives about Haiti and the West Indies and with notions of transnational/transatlantic American studies.  This panel proposes to discuss how this French novel belongs to the work of Early Americanists, adding Hugo’s representations of Haiti and black revolution to those of more recently recovered writers like Leonora Sansay. What does Hugo’s novel suggest for studies in transnationalism, the hemispheric turn which is crucially interested in the place of the West Indies, and, since the novel was only recently translated into English, for the study of language and literature in the early Americas?


Send 250-word paper abstracts to Jonathan Senchyne at by Friday, September 7, 2012.