We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Water and African American Memory

An Ecocritical Perspective

Anissa Janine Wardi

Publication Year: 2011

While there is no lack of scholarship on the trans-Atlantic voyage and the Middle Passage as tropes in African diasporic writing, to date there has not been a comprehensive analysis of bodies of water in African American literature and culture.

In Water and African American Memory, Anissa Wardi offers the first sustained treatise on watercourses in the African American expressive tradition. Her holistic approach especially highlights the ways that water acts not only as a metaphorical site of trauma, memory, and healing but also as a material site.

Using the trans-Atlantic voyage as a starting point and ending with a discussion of Hurricane Katrina, this pioneering ecocritical study delves deeply into the environmental dimension of African American writing. Beyond proposing a new theoretical map for conceptualizing the African Diaspora, Wardi offers a series of engaging and original close readings of major literary, filmic, and blues texts, including the works of Toni Morrison, Ntozake Shange, Julie Dash, Henry Dumas, and Kasi Lemmons.

Published by: University Press of Florida


pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF

p. ix

I am grateful to Chatham University, and specifically to President Esther Barazzone and Vice President for Academic Affairs Laura Armesto, for granting me time and financial support to complete this book. I owe many thanks to my colleagues Bill Lenz, Lynne Bruckner, Sandy Sterner...

read more

Introduction. African American Watersheds

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-29

When I began working on Water and African American Memory: An Ecocritical Perspective, I knew that water was one of the central tropes in the African American literary and historical tradition, but I could not conceive of how timely this project would become. Soon after I embarked...

read more

1. Between Breath and Death: Transatlantic Memory in Ntozake Shange’s Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo and Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 31-59

As a reader, I have traveled with Toni Morrison. I have gone to Shalimar, Virginia, to Lorain, Ohio, to Ruby, Oklahoma, to Danville, Pennsylvania. I have journeyed to the City, the Bottom, Sweet Home, Isle des Chevaliers, Solomon’s Leap, and Up Beach. I have visited 124 Bluestone...

read more

2. Arteries of the Nation: Rivers of Redemption in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Henry Dumas’s “Ark of Bones”

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 61-82

On January 27, 1856, they walked across the frozen Ohio River to freedom. Margaret Garner and her husband, four children, and in-laws fled Kentucky and, walking on solid water, crossed the river and took shelter in a Cincinnati cabin. The Garners were one of many enslaved groups...

read more

3. Wetlands, Swamps, and Bayous: Bodies of Resistance in Kasi Lemmons’s Eve’s Bayou and Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 83-114

Wetlands—bayous, swamps, bogs, and marshes—are liminal geographies shifting between land and water, complicating and defying, in their very beings, categories of identification, thus constructing a trope neither of terra firma nor of strict watercourse. William Mitsch and...

read more

Conclusion. Mud, Blood, and the Blues: Hurricane Katrina and the Floodwaters of the African Diaspora

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 115-141

Concluding where we started, Hurricane Katrina is a complex ecopolitical issue that echoes, reinforces, and culminates the anchoring tropes of water and embodied trauma that structure this study. To apprehend Katrina, we must return to the transatlantic voyage and the...


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 143-156


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 157-167


pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 169-179

E-ISBN-13: 9780813040509
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813037455
Print-ISBN-10: 081303745X

Page Count: 186
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 757828921
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Water and African American Memory

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • American fiction -- African American authors -- History and criticism.
  • African Americans in literature.
  • African diaspora in literature.
  • Water in literature.
  • Water in motion pictures.
  • Ecocriticism.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access