Maryse Condé: the un-Conformist

A conversation between Maboula Soumahoro and Pierre Force
Great Mosque, Djenne, Mali. The roof of the Grand Mosque and its vents. Capture Date 1972/27/12. Gilles MAIRET
Professors Maboula Soumahoro and Pierre Force chat about their friendship and teaching experiences with Maryse Condé, her unclassifiable oeuvre, her significant contribution to Caribbean, African, and women's literature, and her great cooking.
A scholar and a novelist, Maryse Condé taught for several years at Columbia University, where she was Pierre Force's colleague and close friend. Maboula Soumahoro and Condé's lasting friendship began when Soumahoro was a graduate student in New York City. She is now working on a screen adaptation of Condé's novel Segu.

Maboula Soumahoro

Maboula Soumahoro is an associate professor in the English Department of the University of Tours. She is the 2022-2023 Mellon Arts Project International Visiting Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University and Visiting Faculty at Bennington College. A specialist in the field of Africana Studies, Dr. Soumahoro has conducted research and taught in several universities and prisons in the United States and France. Widely published within and without academia, she is the author of Le Triangle et l’Hexagoneréflexions sur une identité noire (La Découverte, 2021), translated into English by Kaiama L. Glover as Black Is the Journey, Africana the Name (Polity, 2021). This book received the FetKann! Maryse Condé literary prize in 2020.

Pierre Force

Pierre Force received his academic training in France, where he was a fellow of the École normale supérieure. He took his BA in Classics (1979), doctorate in French (1987), and habilitation (1994) at the Sorbonne. He first came to the United States in 1984 as a lecturer at Yale University, and he joined the Columbia faculty in 1987. He works at the interface between the humanities and the social sciences and has published in the fields of early modern French literature, intellectual history, and social history. He is the author of Le Problème herméneutique chez Pascal (Paris: Vrin, 1989), Molière ou Le Prix des choses (Paris: Nathan, 1994), Self-Interest before Adam Smith (Cambridge University Press, 2003), and Wealth and Disaster (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016). He chaired the French Department from 1997 to 2007 and is also a member of the History Department. He chaired the Provost’s Tenure Review Advisory Committee in 2022-23. From 2011 to 2014 he served as the inaugural Dean of Humanities in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. He received the Columbia Distinguished Faculty award in 2005 and a Guggenheim fellowship in 2009. He has been a visiting professor at Princeton, Paris VII, Paris XIII, and the École normale supérieure. His teaching interests include French classicism and its reception, hermeneutics and rhetoric, historiography, the history of economic thought, and Atlantic history.

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