Nationalism and Contemporary African American Women's Novels
Publication Year: 2013
In Women’s Work, Courtney Thorsson reconsiders the gender, genre, and geography of African American nationalism as she explores the aesthetic history of African American writing by women. Building on and departing from the Black Arts Movement, the literary fiction of such writers as Toni Cade Bambara, Paule Marshall, Gloria Naylor, Ntozake Shange, and Toni Morrison employs a cultural nationalism—practiced by their characters as "women's work"—that defines a distinct contemporary literary movement, demanding attention to the continued relevance of nation in post–Black Arts writing. Identifying five forms of women's work as organizing, dancing, mapping, cooking, and inscribing, Thorsson shows how these writers reclaimed and revised cultural nationalism to hail African America.
Published by: University of Virginia Press
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I am grateful for the financial, intellectual, and personal support I have had while researching and writing Womenâs Work. At Columbia Univer-sity, a Marjorie Hope Nicolson Fellowship, William T. Golden Fellow-ship, and additional support from the English Department launched this project in its earliest stages under the guidance of Farah Jasmine Grif_f_in, ...
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In the last two decades of the twentieth century, Toni Cade Bambara, Paule Marshall, Gloria Naylor, and Ntozake Shange wrote novels that reclaim and revise African American cultural nationalism. Building on and departing from the black arts movement (BAM) of the 1960s and 1970s, their literary fiction defines cultural nationalism as womenâs ...
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Toni Cade Bambaraâs fiction continues the ef_forts of The Black Woman to envision a sovereign cultural nation constantly built by womenâs work. Her 1980 novel The Salt Eaters organizes a collective that is distinctly African American and grounded in the United States. Bambara, a pro-lific organizer of protests, community centers, anthologies, and artistsâ ...
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Ntozake Shangeâs Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo (1982) overf_lows with the creative output of Hilda Ef_fania and her three daughters. The novel uses recipes to define cooking as a practice of an African American cultural nation. For several female characters in late twentieth-century novels by African American women, recipes are one fruitful space of self-expres-...
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Bambaraâs Velma Henry journeys through time from the very local space of a âbackless stoolâ in an Infirmary to organize herself and her commu-nity toward wellness. Shangeâs women traverse kitchens and the moon as they cook up a nation. Paule Marshallâs Avey Johnson gets a book-length praisesong because she travels, both literally and figuratively, toward ...
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For Gloria Naylor, cultural nationalism is not Avey Johnsonâs diasporic travel in Praisesong for the Widow, nor is it a political movement among black male poets and playwrights in the urban North of the 1960s and 1970s or the Afrocentrism of the 1980s. Naylorâs nationalism is, rather, an ongoing ef_fort to build a distinct African American community in ...
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A letter composed in smeared lipstick, cuts on a womanâs skin, a name scratched into the dirt, a lengthy genealogy burned rather than pub-lished, paintings of womenâs bodies on a basement f_loorâwomen in Toni Morrisonâs 1997 novel Paradise inscribe texts and images that struggle to become public or even legible. Created but rarely read, inscriptions ...
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In the last two decades of the twentieth century, a group of African American womenâs novels reclaimed and revised cultural nationalism. Womenâs workâorganizing, cooking, dancing, mapping, inscribing, archiving, mothering, and writingâconstantly produces a cultural nation. When Minnie Ransom heals Velma Henry in The Salt Eaters; ...
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Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013