Their past in my blood: Paule Marshall, Gayl Jones, and Octavia Butler's response to the Black aesthetic

Williamenia Miranda Walker Freeman

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.