Africanism and Authenticity in African-American Women's by Amy K. Levin

By Amy K. Levin

Africanism and Authenticity strains the ongoing impact of West African women's traditions and societies on late-twentieth-century literature through African-American girls. the 1st 1/2 the ebook specializes in how those impacts permeate either topic and imagery in novels through Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Jamaica Kincaid, and Gloria Naylor. the second one part makes a speciality of contemporary neo-slave narratives as works that sprang from the African event instead of works that in basic terms parallel the unique slave narratives. Levin is without doubt one of the first writers to debate Toni Morrison's Paradise and Gloria Naylor's males of Brewster position. Amy Levin's learn is the 1st to concentration so explicitly at the significance of West African women's traditions in modern writing by way of African-American ladies. Levin demanding situations feminist reviews of those writings via revealing the level to which these reviews stay Eurocentric, whilst they query Afrocentric readings that draw basically on African male traditions as though they have been similar to women's practices. In addressing those matters, Africanism and Authenticity is helping to refine the present dialogue of literary authenticity and records a particular culture that

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The bird alerts women of approaching danger. But more than that, the chicken, which may accompany a woman in her daily tasks, is a sign of domesticity, of community: “The Mende word for chickens, te, and the word for town, ta, are the same in the definite, tei” (Boone 210). The chicken is associated with Sande in another way, too. Like the Sowei, the chicken is a liminal creature, capable of traveling on the ground or in the air, of perceiving internal and external realities. Frequently carved on the crown of the Sowo mask, a chicken signifies “clairvoyance” (Boone 208); in addition, “Chickens [are] able to see into the human heart” (Boone 210).

Another important element of Sande is the chicken, woman’s confidant and protector. The bird alerts women of approaching danger. But more than that, the chicken, which may accompany a woman in her daily tasks, is a sign of domesticity, of community: “The Mende word for chickens, te, and the word for town, ta, are the same in the definite, tei” (Boone 210). The chicken is associated with Sande in another way, too. Like the Sowei, the chicken is a liminal creature, capable of traveling on the ground or in the air, of perceiving internal and external realities.

Not all Eurocentric readings are so effective. The shortcomings of Eurocentric feminist discussions of motherhood in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Jamaica Kincaid’s novels will be considered in later chapters. Still other critics have traced references to canonical works in African-American women’s novels: for instance, when Catherine Ward compares Naylor’s Linden Hills with Dante’s Inferno. While some might argue that Naylor and her sister novelists reinforce the canon, Peter Erickson suggests that allusions to such “classics” as Shakespeare’s Hamlet or The Tempest sub- 28 Africanism and Authenticity vert the dominant paradigm: “Naylor’s interest in Shakespeare neither translates into kinship nor supports a model of continuity; the main note is rather one of conflict and difference” (246).

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