Jonathon Repinecz

Jonathon Repinecz

Jonathon Repinecz

French Graduate Advisor

Associate Professor

French: Modern African literatures and cultures; Modern francophone literatures and cultures; Intersections of literature and anthropology; Genocide studies; Folklore and oral literature; Postcolonial theory; Wolof (advanced reading) and Swahili (beginner).

Associate Professor of French and Global Affairs.

Regional interests: West Africa, Central Africa.

Jonathon Repinecz specializes in francophone literatures of West and Central Africa.  While he has particular expertise in Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo, he regularly teaches texts and traditions from around the continent.  His work focuses on crossing language lines (i.e. French-Wolof, francophone-anglophone) and is deeply engaged with Africanist conversations in the humanities and social sciences. 

Repinecz has published articles on African literature and cinema in several journals and blogs, and has a first book out. He has translated a number of scholarly articles on Africanist anthropology.  In addition to regular courses on African and francophone cultural production within the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, he collaborates closely with Mason's Global Affairs Program to enhance offerings in African Studies for the wider campus community.

Current Research

I am currently working on two book-length projects related to the Democratic Republic of Congo: one on the history of folklore studies in this country, and another on testimonies of survivors of ongoing wars in the east.

Selected Publications


Subversive Traditions: Reinventing the West African Epic.  Michigan State University Press (2019). Winner of the American Comparative Literature Association Helen Tartar First Book Award.


“In Service of Authenticity: Epic in Central Africa under Colonialism.”  The Epic World, ed. Pamela Jo Lothspeich, Routledge. Forthcoming 2023.


Senegalese Wrestling between Nostalgia and Neoliberalism.” African Studies Review 63.4 (2020): 906-926.

“‘The Facets of our Diglossia’: Native Speakers as Multilingual Storytellers.” Critical Multilingualism Studies 5.2 (2017): 178–207. Part of a special issue entitled “Legitimate Speakers in Contested Spaces,” co-edited with Livi Yoshioka-Maxwell.

“‘This is Not a Pipe’?: Reflexivity, Fictionality, and Dialogism in Sembène’s Films.” Journal of African Cinemas 8.2 (2016): 181-197.

The Tales of Tomorrow: Toward a Futurist Vision of Wolof Tradition.”  Journal of African Cultural Studies 15.1 (2015): 56-70. Part of a special issue dedicated to literatures in African languages. 


Expanded Publication List

Subversive Traditions reviewed by Jan Jansen, H-Africa, April 2020. French version, Etudes littéraires africaines 49 (2020): 267-71.


Review of Mukoma Wa Ngugi, The Rise of the African Novel: Politics of Language, Identity, and OwnershipAfrican Studies Review 65.3 (2022): E4-E5.

Review of Richard Fardon and Senga La Rouge, Learning from the Curse: Sembène’s Xala. Journal of the International African Institute 88.4 (2018): 885-6.

A New Look at Gay Life in Senegal.” Review of Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, De purs hommes. Africa is a Country (academic blog on African affairs). September 26, 2018.

 “Maryse Condé Speaks: The Death of Negritude and Other Life Lessons.” Review of Françoise Pfaff, Nouveaux Entretiens avec Maryse Condé. sx salon 28 (an online platform of the Caribbeanist journal Small Axe). June 2018.

Review of Patrick Voisin (ed.), Ahmadou Kourouma, entre poétique romanesque et littérature politique. La Plume Francophone (academic blog). April 14, 2017.

Review of Dominic Thomas, Africa and France: Postcolonial Cultures, Migration, and RacismInternational Journal of African Historical Studies 47.3 (2014): 510-511.

Grants and Fellowships

Fulbright Research Grantee / Visiting Scholar, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium (2018-2019) 

  • Project Title: “Strange Stories: Folklore and Coloniality in the Congo from Stanley to Mobutu”

Fulbright-Hays Seminar Abroad: Religion and Diversity in West Africa (5-week funded seminar in Dakar, Senegal) (Summer 2016) (declined)

Courses Taught

GLOA 400/599 and FREN 467 Decolonization

GLOA 400 Pan-Africanisms

GLOA 101 Introduction to Global Affairs

FRLN 430/530 Diversity, Conflict, and Citizenship in Africa

FREN 451/551 Global African Identities

FREN 451/551 Theories of Tradition and Modernity in African Literature

FREN 371 French Civ 1789-present

FREN 325 Sub-Saharan Writers in Translation

FREN 340 Francophone Identities

FREN 454/554 Writing the Caribbean

Organizer, “Hip Hop and Democracy Activism in Senegal,” with invited guests Xuman and Keyti, GMU (October 2016)

Organizer, “Hip Hop and Democracy Activism in Senegal,” with invited guest Thiat, Reed College (October 2013)

Various Independent Studies (GLOA 600-level; FREN 4/500-level) on African history and politics, francophone literature, and language pedagogy

M.A. Thesis Direction (French): "Navigating Female Spaces in Rural and Urban Senegal - A Dialogue between Two Women Writers in Wolof and French (M.Y. Dieng and M. Bâ)," by Fatima Seck (2021)


Ph.D, UC Berkeley, 2013

B.A., Washington University in St. Louis, 2005

Recent Presentations


“‘Un désordre indescriptible’: Folklore as Mask in the Congolese Nervous State.” Sixth Annual Distinguished Alumni Lecture, French Department, UC Berkeley. September 23, 2021.

The Straitjacket of Authenticity: Black Writers as Bad Folklorists in the Congolese Nervous State.” “Africa at Noon” Speaker Series, University of Wisconsin, Madison. October 30, 2019.

“From Negritude to Wakanda: Toward a Critical Genealogy.” Symposium on Global Africa, Migration, Literature and the Arts, Rutgers University. March 29, 2019.

INVITED LECTURES (Student-focused)

“Luta senegalesa entre nostalgia e neoliberalismo.” Invited presentation for the Coletivo Luta Marajoara, a working group on Afro-indigenous wrestling of northeastern Brazil. Online. Discussion in Portuguese and French. October 28, 2022.

“From Sunjata to Samory and Beyond: West African Epic and the Politics of History.” Guest lecture for:

  • University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Online. October 13, 2022.
  • Salisbury University. Online. April 27-28, 2021.

“The Half-Black Iliad: African Epic and the Racialization of Comparative Literature.” Guest lecture in the Great Conversation Program, St. Olaf College. Online. October 11, 2021.


“Colonial Predecessors to the ‘African Epic’ Debate: Belgian Congo and Rwanda.” African Studies Association, Philadelphia. November 19, 2022.

Roundtable on “The Life and Work of Djibril Tamsir Niane: Memories and Reflections.” African Studies Association. November 20, 2021.

“The Role of Music and Literature in Senegambian Ethics of Consciousness, Leadership, and Development.” Discussant. African Studies Association. November 19, 2021.

Author Meets Critic Panel for Cullen Goldblatt, Beyond Collective Memory: Structural Complicity and Future Freedoms in Senegalese and South African Narratives. African Studies Association. November 19, 2021.

“Servant of the Word?  The Case of Laye Camara's Forgotten Thesis.” Co-presented with David Conrad. Mande Studies Association. June 16, 2021.

“Megaliths, Migrations, and Racial Hatred: The Making and Unmaking of West African History.” African Studies Association, Atlanta, November 29, 2018.

“Is Negritude Dead? Reflections on Black Panther and Maryse Condé.”  Dakar Institute for African Studies, Dakar, Senegal.  July 6, 2018.

In the Media

"Joining the Congo Research Network." Blog of the Fulbright Commission in Belgium. August 8, 2019.

Excerpt from an interview with the Baobab Talk Show (community/student radio in Dakar). July 9, 2018.