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Mapping intersections: Black women's identities and the politics of home in transnational black American women's fiction

Sandra Caona Duvivier, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Transnational black American women writers' literary renderings of "home" evidence an intersectional relationship among black American literature and cultures. This dissertation analyzes, through the trope of home, these authors' portrayals of the multiplicity of experiences informing black American women's lives and identities both domestically and transnationally. Embracing the transnationalism of black American female subjects, as well as a paradigm of intersectionality, this dissertation creates a framework that challenges not only canon formation with regards to black women's literature in the Americas, but also the rigidity surrounding racial/ethnic and national identities generally. To this end, it distinguishes itself from other scholarship that has largely analyzed these women's writings comparatively or within a larger diasporic framework---which, while insightful, tends to undermine the impact and specificity of "New World" or black American cultures. This dissertation consists of an Introduction that delineates "intersectionality," explicating its significance and relational aspects to what I refer to as "transnational black American." Chapter I analyzes how these black women writers' representations of home problematize "nation"; and, it situates the novels within particular historical, sociopolitical, gendered, and literary contexts. Chapter II investigates Paule Marshall's depictions of African American and Caribbean settings as homespaces integral to protagonist Avey Johnson's black cultural consciousness and healing in Praisesong for the Widow. Chapter III examines the ways Haiti and the United States serve as sites of female sexual violation in Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory . Chapter IV analyzes Toni Morrison's and Opal Palmer Adisa's delineations of African American women's attempts to establish a homespace and connection to their "black woman-ness" in transnational black American settings in Tar Baby and It Begins with Tears, respectively. Lastly, the Conclusion underscores this dissertation's significance in its challenging the rigidity of not only African American and Caribbean literary canons and their respective criticisms, but national boundaries and spaces, as well.

Subject Area

Comparative literature|African Americans|Womens studies|American literature|Caribbean literature

Recommended Citation

Duvivier, Sandra Caona, "Mapping intersections: Black women's identities and the politics of home in transnational black American women's fiction" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3215912.