This research project has been in the making since well before I began graduate school; its origins can be traced to the French and francophone courses I took at Williams College, notably with Kashia Pieprzak, Brian Williams, and Amadou Ouédraogo. The Robert G. Wilmers, Jr. 1990 Memorial Student Travel Abroad Fellowship funded my research trip to study coupé-décalé music in Paris in 2006 that was at the core of the inquiry that expanded into this book.
I owe my doctoral committee many thanks for their roles in molding this project into a thesis. This project would not be what it is without Alain Mabanckou’s feedback at its earliest stages, as well as his continued insights into contemporary francophone culture. Timothy Taylor will always be my model for what it means to be a theoretically engaged yet articulate and thoughtful scholar, and I thank him for helping me better bridge the divide between literary and musical conversations. Lia Brozgal’s keen attention to detail and thoughtful questions and critiques from this study’s beginning undeniably challenged me to sharpen my analytical capacities, and the project is much stronger because of them. Beyond this, I am grateful for her generosity and mentorship both during and after my doctorate. Dominic Thomas, my committee chair, has taught me what it means to be a champion for francophone studies. His dedication to this project from its inception and his advice at all stages have pushed me to think more critically and synthetically. I am also grateful for a UCLA Dissertation Year Fellowship (2013−14) that supported my final year of writing of the thesis.
In transforming this project from thesis to book, I have benefitted enormously from welcoming colleagues and a supportive chair, Phillip Bailey, at the University of Central Arkansas. In particular, I thank the College of Liberal Arts writing group members (past and present), Taine Duncan, Alana Reid, Story Matkin-Rawn, and Elizabeth Harper, for (p.x) their careful eyes, for their encouragement, and for their friendship. Institutional support in the form of a UCA University Research Council Faculty Summer Stipend (2014) allowed me to conduct additional research in France. I would also like to thank Indiana University Press for permission to reprint a significantly expanded version of my article ‘Selling (out) on the Black Market: Black Bazar’s Literary Sape’, Research in African Literatures 46, no. 2 (2015): 52−69. This chapter supersedes my earlier work.
I am grateful to those who have read various pieces of this book, including Anne Donadey, Clayton Crockett, Michelle Bumatay, Michelle Lee, and Lori Leavell. I also owe many thanks to the two anonymous readers whose insightful comments no doubt strengthened the book overall. I greatly appreciate the patience, responsiveness, and guidance of Anthony Cond and the editorial team at the Liverpool University Press, without whom this book would not have been published.
In the following people, I am lucky to have met (sometimes unlikely) sounding boards, unflagging backers, and friends quite literally willing to ‘go the extra mile’ with and for me: Micah Wendell, Allison Crumly Van Deventer, Brittany Asaro, Kate Schlosser, Brian Quinn, Kirk Sides, Carolyn Embree, Annie Mueller, Adelaide Kuehn, Sharon Wilkes, Ruth Clayton, and Ruth Jones.
Finally, for their unwavering support, unconditional love, and infinite patience, I thank my family. I thank especially my brother, Christopher Knox, whose love of music and courage are continual sources of inspiration. My parents, Jeffrey and JoAnn Knox, taught me to challenge myself, to follow my passions, and to expand my horizons. I never would have imagined, much less realized, research in Cameroon—the cornerstone upon which this project rests—without their support. I dedicate this book to them.