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Splitting tongues: the deterritorialisation of language in the Alsatian poetry of André Weckmann and Claude Vigée

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2014
JournalLiminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies
Original languageEnglish


ConferenceContemporary Poetry in Public Spaces
CountryUnited Kingdom


Situated on the border between France and Germany, Alsace is a French region which has changed nationality repeatedly over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth century. The question of the cultural identity of Alsace-Lorraine, informed by the fact that the Alsatian dialect, or Elsässerditsch, is a form Allemmanic German, has been at the centre of much dispute surrounding the legitimate nationality of its people in the nineteenth and twentieth century. This paper discusses the literary implications of the multilingualism of two Alsatian poets, Claude Vigée and André Weckmann, who, instead of choosing a language of legitimate “reterritorialisation”, wrote poetry in French, German and Alsatian. Both poets wrote and translated from these languages in spite of the political implications of this gesture in the aftermath of the Second World War. The multilingual poetics of their works signified a departure from nationalist territorial norms, the opening up of a public space at the crossing of languages. How is the geopolitical situation of Alsace poeticised and integrated in their works? How did Vigée and Weckmann develop multilingualism into a poetic in its own right? This paper discusses how, in Vigée and Weckmann’s poems, the space of the poem on the page is used to mediate the relationship between geographical space and language in the texts. It investigates how the poetry of Vigée and Weckmann is haunted by the potency of their linguistic choice and the desire to turn the liminality of the border into a public space of enunciation and a discourse in its own right.