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Document Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Afro-American Studies

Year Degree Awarded

2017

Month Degree Awarded

May

First Advisor

James E. Smethurst

Second Advisor

Steven C. Tracy

Third Advisor

Rachel L. Mordecai

Fourth Advisor

Antonio D. Tillis

Subject Categories

African American Studies | American Literature | Cultural History | Ethnic Studies | Latina/o Studies | Literature in English, North America, Ethnic and Cultural Minority | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Abstract

Until now, there has been little sustained critical attention to the way African American literature, history, culture, and politics influence transculturation and ethnoracial identity formation in Afro-Latino bildung narratives. This dissertation addresses that oversight. The Afroethnic Impulse and Renewal: African American Transculturations in Afro-Latino Bildung Narratives, 1961 to 2013, examines a long, but often neglected, history of intercultural affinities and literary encounters between African Americans and Afro-Latinos from the twentieth to the twenty-first century.

In The Afroethnic Impulse and Renewal, I explore African American literary and cultural influences in the personal essays, memoirs, and autobiographically inspired fiction of Jesús Colón, Evelio Grillo, Piri Thomas, Carlos Moore, Veronica Chambers, Junot Díaz, and Raquel Cepeda. I pay particular attention to how African American intertexts shape these writers' conceptions of Afro-Latino ethnic, racial, and national identity formation in the U.S. These writers, I argue, use African American narrative strategies and cultural tropes to assert and authenticate their identities as U.S. citizens and residents. Furthermore, I contend that these pan-African exchanges produce a pattern of acculturation that I call ethnoracial apprenticeship. The ethnoracial apprenticeship lens reveals certain Afro-Latino coming-of-age narratives to be unique, though not uniquely, African American texts. By studying these cases and moments of Afroethnic fusion, we can learn as much or more about the plasticity and diversity of “black identity” in the U.S. than we can by studying the African American experience alone. The African American intertexts in Afro-Latino bildung narratives require scholars to expand the canons of African American and Latino literature and redefine conventional notions of “black identity” in the Civil Rights, Black Arts, and post-Segregation eras.

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