Date of Award

8-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Modern Foreign Languages

Major Professor

Dawn Duke

Committee Members

Millie Gimmel, Nuria Cruz-Cámara, Catherine higgs

Abstract

In the XIX century, Brazil and Cuba created the abolitionist novels whose main theme emphasized black women as their main literary figure. Even though these novels aimed to denounce and depict the atrocities of the modern slavery system, the discourse of this literary corpus portrayed women of African descent under a phallocentric and racist ideology. Consequently, their image carried many negative stereotypes that have relegated them to literary and sociocultural invisibility. With this in mind, the dissertation “Recreando la imagen literaria de la mujer afrodescendiente en las narrativas femeninas afrocubanas y afrobrasileñas contemporáneas” explores how through the stimulus of a self-representation discourse it is possible to transform the image of black women not only in the literary realm, but also in the sociocultural sphere. This assertion will be elaborated through the analysis of four narratives from contemporary Afro-feminine literature: Quarto de despejo (1960) written by Carolina Maria de Jesus, Um defeito de cor (2007) written by Ana Maria Gonçalves, Santa lujuria o papeles de blanco (1998) written by Marta Rojas, and Golpeando la memoria: testimonio de una poeta cubana afrodescendiente (2005) written by Georgina Herrera. These four texts focus on the recreation of the image of black women in contemporary Afro-feminine narratives in Brazil and in Cuba, in order to fight negative stereotypes and highlight black women’s cultural and historical contribution in these two nations.

The common thread that these literary work share is the possibility that the four writers have for literary self-representation through the narrative voice and the afro-feminine characters. This dissertation examines how these voices and female characters destabilize conventional roles assigned to black women (the submissive slave, the passive mother, and the poor black women) by portraying images that bring them cultural visibility and literary and historical empowerment. Therefore, I will demonstrate how these writers engage in black women’s self-inscription in the historical and literary process by taking control of their own (hi)stories. Finally, this dissertation will invite readers to re-think how literature can provide a multitude of facets of one story.

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