Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Michelle D. Commander

Committee Members

Thomas F. Haddox, Mary E. Papke


Ann Petry’s The Street and Octavia Butler’s Kindred offer critical examinations of intersectional oppression through the framework of the “matrix of domination” as defined by Patricia Hill Collins. With an understanding of the key concepts of W.E.B. Du Bois’s color line and Jennifer Lynn Stoever’s sonic color line, this essay examines how each of these texts illuminate the complex grievances of existing in a society that perceives and marginalizes individuals on the basis of race and gender. Petry and Butler both use the speculative mode to position their examination, which not only offers a visceral portrait of this constrained identity as exemplified by the female protagonists at separate points in time, but also encourages a consideration of an alternative societal construction that is void of such assaultive hierarchy. As a result, Petry and Butler’s parallel utilization of the speculative creates a bridge for the reader to actively interact with the text on multiple levels by acting as voyeur, sympathizer, and speculator.

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