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Title:"Winged, but grounded": A contextual study of the fiction of Toni Morrison and Gayl Jones
Author(s):Dubey, Madhu
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Deck, Alice
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Black Studies
Women's Studies
Literature, American
Abstract:This dissertation examines the novels published by Toni Morrison and Gayl Jones in the 1970's, with a specific focus on their complex formal exchange with the Black nationalist ideology that largely shaped the contemporary Black cultural context.
My introduction situates my theoretical approach within and against the major strains of recent Black feminist criticism. My work seeks to develop and refine the Black feminist theorization of the relation between Black women's fictional texts and their ideological contexts. My first chapter presents a Black feminist account of the masculine centering of Black nationalist ideology, arguing that the concomitant marginalization of the Black woman troubles her relation to the three central oppositions--between individual and community, past and present, and absent and present subjectivity--that structure this ideology.
The fictional mediation of these ideological oppositions concerns my next four chapters, which discuss Morrison's The Bluest Eye (1970) and Sula (1973), and Jones' Corregidora (1975) and Eva's (1976). In addition to thematically exploring a black femininity that exceeds the parameters of Black nationalist ideology, these novels exhibit a complex formal negotiation with the three central oppositions of Black nationalist ideology. My discussion concentrates on the narrative strategies common to all these novels, such as the structural tension between cyclic and linear time, the unsettling of realistic modes of characterization, and the use of oral narrative models. These and other formal strategies produce a distinctive vision of subjectivity, community and historical change, a vision at once bounded by and straining against the limits of Black nationalist ideology.
My Conclusion, which selectively examines the fiction published by other Black women in the 1970's, attempts to situate the work of Morrison and Jones within a wider set of diverse but inter-related fictional practices, and, more importantly, to guard against a facile construction of the 1970's as a static, unified "period" in the history of Black women's fiction.
My work rests on the conviction that only a simultaneously historical and formal criticism can challenge the dichotomy, between form and ideology, that authorizes the formation of the dominant American literary tradition, and that excludes the works of Black women novelists from this tradition.
Issue Date:1989
Rights Information:Copyright 1989 Dubey, Madhu
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9010848
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9010848

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