Race, Identity and Perspectives of African American Women in the Selected Works of Toni Morrison and Rita Dove

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Race, Identity and Perspectives of African American Women in the Selected Works of Toni Morrison and Rita Dove

Abstract

This study is concerned with an appraisal of Race, Identity and Perspectives of African American Women in the Selected Works of Toni Morrison and Rita Dove about the African American community, within the context of the United States of America. Over the years African American women writing has not been accorded due relevance within the American literary space. As such, black male writers have dominated the literary scene for long, being literarily the spoke persons on the specific and general dimensions of black people’s existence and experience in America. This position is now being contested by black women writers such as Toni Morrison and Rita Dove. In other words, the claim of a homogenous black experience is now being debated and challenged by these African American women writers through different literary platforms. Thus, these black women writers foreground women characters who are now subjects of their own narrations. This research apprehends the various views of African American women about themselves, about the African American community and how their perspectives have contributed significantly to shaping the concerns bordering on history, existence, experience and the community of black people in America via different literary platforms. Significantly therefore, this research employs various genres of literature, specifically the novelistic art form and the poetic genre, as parameters for the exploration of the complex dynamics of African American community in America. To this extent, the study contends that the poetic genre of literature is also a distinctive genre that similarly apprehends the African American reality and should be emphasized alongside the novel form which has gained popular acceptance in the literary circle. This thesis employs the postcolonial praxis as a rewarding paradigm for investigating the works of Morrison and Dove, especially as it facilitates the foregrounding of such critical parameters as hegemony, hybridity, mimicry, conflict, power dynamics, identity, gender to name a few and how these concerns are implicated in the existence and experience of black people in America. This research work is presented in six chapters. Chapter one is the introduction, which provides a background on the conceptual framework of the research. It comments on the origin and development of African American writing as well as the emergence of African American women writing. Chapter two delineates the dynamics of slavery in Morrison’s A Mercy. Chapter three locates the place and position of African American identity in Morrison’s Paradise. Chapter four interrogates the concept of race in the globalized American society in Rita Dove’s American Smooth. Chapter five appraises the dilemma of mothering in Dove’s Mother Love. Chapter six, the concluding chapter brings to bear the central arguments and findings of the study and its contributions to knowledge in the field.

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