Moorings & Metaphors: Figures of Culture and Gender in Black Women's Literature

Moorings & Metaphors: Figures of Culture and Gender in Black Women's Literature

Moorings & Metaphors: Figures of Culture and Gender in Black Women's Literature

Moorings & Metaphors: Figures of Culture and Gender in Black Women's Literature

Synopsis

Moorings and Metaphors is one of the first studies to examine the ways that cultural tradition is reflected in the language and figures of black women's writing. In a discussion that includes the works of Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, Ama Ata Aidoo, Ntozake Shange, Buchi Emecheta, Octavia Butler, Efua Sutherland, and Gayl Jones, and with a particular focus on Toni Morrison's Beloved and Flora Nwapa's Efuru, Holloway follows the narrative structures, language, and figurative metaphors of West African goddesses and African-American ancestors as they weave through the pages of these writers' fiction. She explores what she would call the cultural and gendered essence of contemporary literature that has grown out of the African diaspora.

Proceeding from a consideration of the imaginative textual languages of contemporary African-American and West African writers, Holloway asserts the intertextuality of black women's literature across two continents. She argues the subtext of culture as the source of metaphor and language, analyzes narrative structures and linguistic processes, and develops a combined theoretical/critical apparatus and vocabulary for interpreting these writers' works. The cultural sources and spiritual considerations that inhere in these textual languages are discussed within the framework Holloway employs of patterns of revision, (re)membrance, and recursion--all of which are vehicles for expressive modes inscribed at the narrative level. Her critical reading of contemporary black women's writing in the United States and West Africa is unique, radical, and sure to be controversial.

Excerpt

Bein alive & bein a woman & bein colored is a metaphysical dilemma/i havent conquered yet. . . . my spirit is too ancient to understand the separation of soul and gender.

Ntozake Shange, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

This is a book with at least two titles. There is a figurative (and parenthetical) title layered within the given one. It has been a subconscious notation for me as I have researched, written, and thought about this work. the figurative title, (Cultural) Moorings and (Spiritual) Metaphors, indicates the two dimensions that most accurately reflect my biases toward critical theory and black women's literature.

"Moorings" marks the starting places of my critical interpretations. It is a word I use to emphasize that mine is a perspective deliberately fixed in a specific place. Its center is where behavior, art, philosophy, and language unite as a cultural expression within an African-American literary tradition. a mooring place has been recovered at the point when an interpretation of literary style and substance, and its formal textures and cultural figurations, specifies certain styles of discourse. My primary argument is that black women's literature reflects its community--the cultural ways of knowing as well as ways of framing that knowledge in language. in this study, I trace figures of language that testify to that cultural mooring place. These are inversive, recursive and sometimes even subversive structures that . . .

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