2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

Poetic or Politic?: The Double Life of Léopold Sédar Senghor
Thomas E. Morgan
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

Léopold Sédar Senghor was a Senegalese poet and politician and the founder of the Negritude movement. The principles behind this movement – upholding the ideals of traditional African society and resurrecting the glory of Africa’s past – are ever-present in his writing. Though Negritude can be considered, in the words of Jean- Paul Sartre, “an anti-racist racism”, Senghor himself had different ideas about the African man’s place in European society. One of Senghor’s more controversial ideas was “assimilate, not be assimilated”—in this way, Africans could form their own niche, rather than have one forced upon them. However, this idea of Africans' importance in the European world contrasts with the longing for the motherland that fills much of his poetry. By allowing his political motivations to flavor his poetry, Senghor shows the contrast between his emotional poetic nature and the social responsibility of a politician, a contrast this paper will explore by following Senghor’s varying definitions of Negritude and how they reflect on his personal struggles.

Keywords: Senghor, negritude, Jean- Paule Sartre, inner conflict, politician, poet, white man's world, longing

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 44-4
Location: VH 1428
Time: 2:00 pm

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