Date of Award

Fall 12-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Committee Chair

Dr. Sherita L. Jackson

Committee Chair Department

English

Committee Member 2

Dr. Philip C. Kolin

Committee Member 2 Department

English

Committee Member 3

Dr. Ellen Weinauer

Committee Member 3 Department

English

Committee Member 4

Dr. Linda Allen

Committee Member 4 Department

English

Abstract

Paule Marshall’s The Chosen Place, The Timeless People (1969), Gayl Jones’ Corregidora (1975), and Octavia Butler’s Kindred (1979) enhance our conceptualization of black aestheticism and black nationalism as cultural and political movements. The writers use the novel as genre to question the ideological paradigm of a black nationalist aesthetic by providing alternative definitions of community, black women’s sexuality, and race relations. Because of the ways in which these writers respond to black aestheticism and black nationalism, they transform our understanding of movements often perceived as sexist, racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic. An examination of their works reveals the need for additional critical inquiry into the Black Arts era. More importantly, this study suggests that these writers are deserving of more prominent placement within the African American literary canon as the thematic content of their novels presages that found in the works of more canonical writers like Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Gloria Naylor.

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