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Activism and the American Novel

Religion and Resistance in Fiction by Women of Color

Channette Romero

Publication Year: 2012

Since the 1980s, many activists and writers have turned from identity politics toward ethnic religious traditions to rediscover and reinvigorate their historic role in resistance to colonialism and oppression. In her examination of contemporary fiction by women of color—including Toni Morrison, Ana Castillo, Toni Cade Bambara, Louise Erdrich, and Leslie Marmon Silko—Channette Romero considers the way these novels newly engage with Vodun, Santería, Candomblé, and American Indian traditions. Critical of a widespread disengagement from civic participation and of the contemporary novel’s disconnection from politics, this fiction attempts to transform the novel and the practice of reading into a means of political engagement and an inspiration for social change.

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Title Page

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

This book is the result of the intellectual rapport, mentoring, friendship, love, and support I received while writing it, and I am indebted to all who made it possible. Three extraordinary mentors deserve my most profound gratitude: Marianne DeKoven, who served as director of the...

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Introduction: Searching for Relations

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pp. 1-23

In Wendy Rose’s poem “Notes on a Conspiracy” (1993), an American Indian spirit expresses outrage when her skeleton is disturbed and excavated for museum display. She begins “searching for relations beneath each rock, / praying that I will not go to war alone” (86). Writing by...

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1. Reconstituting the Public Sphere

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pp. 25-52

Contemporary fiction by women of color proceeds on the assumption that literature contains political promise; it can influence public discourse, shape communal relations, and change readers’ consciousness. In seeking this political promise, contemporary women writers of color...

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2. Spiritual Temporalities and Histories: Cristina García and LeAnne Howe

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pp. 53-83

If a democratic public sphere is to be reconstituted, it must be infused with a complex understanding of history. Oskar Negt and Alexander Kluge assert that since capitalism “has consistently excluded history,” “a fully developed historical awareness is necessary for the constitution...

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3. Rewriting America’s Exceptionalism: Toni Morrison

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pp. 84-111

Unfortunately, the promise of multiracial public spheres in the colonial Americas and early United States was broken in the nineteenth century. At that time, the United States’ national identity was consolidated around a more repressive model of community and nationhood. Michael Warner...

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4. Post–Civil Rights Community: Alice Walker, Toni Cade Bambara, and Ana Castillo

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pp. 112-141

We have examined the formal, thematic, and political characteristics of a new literary development that envisions spiritually inspired, multiracial public spheres. I turn in the second half of this book to investigating in greater detail how this literary trend emerged as a response to...

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5. Indigenous Sovereignties: Leslie Marmon Silko and Louise Erdrich

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pp. 142-171

When we examine recent novels by two of the most well-known American Indian writers, Leslie Marmon Silko and Louise Erdrich, we discover further evidence of the ongoing connection between the literature and political activism of contemporary women writers of color. However...

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Conclusion: Toward a Literary Activism

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pp. 173-179

To position their own writing as enacting a form of activism, contemporary writing by women of color often alludes or directly refers to historic interracial rebellions inspired by the religions and spiritualities of people of color. For example, in her foreword to...

Notes

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pp. 181-194

References

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pp. 195-210

Index

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pp. 211-217


E-ISBN-13: 9780813933306
E-ISBN-10: 0813933307
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813933283
Print-ISBN-10: 0813933285

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2012

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Subject Headings

  • American fiction -- Women authors -- History and criticism.
  • American fiction -- Minority authors -- History and criticism.
  • Women and literature -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Politics and literature -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Religion in literature.
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