TitleTo walk or fly?
NameTolbert, Tolonda Michele (author), Busia, Abena (chair), Diamond, Josephine (internal member), Sifuentes-Jauregui, Ben (internal member), Alexander, Simone (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
African American women in literature,
African American women authors--History and criticism
DescriptionThis dissertation focuses on the function of black vernacular myths and rituals in three primary women's texts of the Americas: Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon (1977), Simone Schwartz-Bart's Pluie et Vent sur Telumee Miracle (1972) and Paule Marshall's Praisesong for the Widow (1983). My project codifies how the black vernacular expressions of mythology and ritual are used to negotiate power between the individual and their community. Specifically, I trace how the women in these texts used resources of the black vernacular tradition as social and cultural collateral to empower themselves within an alternative system of values that simultaneously validates self and communal worth. Analyzing the transnational myths of the Flying Africans/Ibo Landing--myths of newly-arrived Africans escaping slavery by flight or by walking on water back to Africa, I contend that the performances of these myths and dance rituals not only created kinship bonds but also provided opportunities for expanding the parameters of community.
This writing grew from the limits of the Black Arts Movement (1960-1970) when the male-dominated discourse on the black vernacular traditions focused on creating a voice distinct from, and often in conflict with, the prevailing white literary establishment. Simultaneously, Second Wave Feminism left women of color outside of the discourse on social justice and their definition of womanhood. I argue that these black women authors responded to this marginalization within their affinity groups by employing folk traditions to observe intra-communal dynamics. Doing so created a model of internal reflection that both revealed the seeds of internalized dominant/subordinate ideologies and served as an alternative method to record the impact of the larger social structure of domination.
These authors located black women's knowledge and power in liminal folk spaces in their novels. Taken together, they introduced a metaphor for black women's positioning in the Black Arts Movement and Second Wave Feminism; folk traditions from this insider/outsider perspective became tools to navigate and critique systems of domination. These texts provided dramatizations of a black feminist perspective, navigating black women's experiences of intersectionality, thus employing folk knowledge as a means to create new possibilities from historical traditions.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 274-288)
Noteby Tolonda Michele Tolbert
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.