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Language and Literature in the African American Imagination

By Carol Aisha Blackshire-Belay | Go to book overview

7
Kitchen Table Talk:
J. California Cooper's Use of
Nommo--Female Bonding
and Transcendence

Barbara J. Marshall

The current thrust toward examinations of the works of African American female writers has demanded both theoretical and critical paradigms. Because of the many and varied forms female texts have taken, because of the extent of these literary contributions, scholars have sought to critique works from many viewpoints. Scholars have used narratology, deconstruction, and Marxism for critical insight. Narratology, as a theory of narrative texts, analyzes the text in terms of fabula: events, actors who resemble characters from life, and aspects or techniques the writer employs to move the text forward. The deconstructionist breaks the text apart and analyzes the parts rather than the whole, while the Marxist examines the text in terms of an on-going struggle between the classes.

Despite these various forms of analysis, black female writers are demanding a "say" in their own criticism. Critics, such as Barbara Christian, call for black feminist criticism, while Audre Lorde insists that the lesbian view point is also viable and necessary. Afrocentric scholars are expanding horizons: an African centered worldview is used to analyze the female writer's expression. We question whether the text expands from an African center. This new field of analysis opens doors to an energetic and historically correct examination of the literature of African American female as well as male writers.

My aim is to utilize an Afrocentric paradigm that focuses upon the themes of Nommo, female bonding, and transcendence in the short stories of J. California Cooper. To make this critique, I will exam the three texts: A Piece of Mine ( 1984), Homemade Love, ( 1986), and Some Soul to Keep ( 1987). The following issues will be discussed: male/female

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