The Postmodern Self in 21st Century Women of Color Writings

Tidita Abdurrahmani

ISBN 978-3-8325-3327-4
222 pages, year of publication: 2013
price: 39.50 €
This monography, a dissertation thesis in completion to requirements of the doctoral programme of studies in Karl Franzens Universität,Graz is intended to fill in the critical gaps surrounding late 20th century and early 21st century women of color autobiographies. At a time when the critics' interest remains ever more focused on slave narratives and neo-narratives, the study highlights the way in which the struggle for a collective identity and representative voice, is substituted by the struggle for self-affirmation and the quest for the Self in the 21st century autobiographies.

Organized into seven chapters, of which two theoretical ones respectively focusing on the debates regarding the postmodern Self and the position held by autobiography in the postmodern literary canon, and the empirical ones drawing conclusions regarding matrilinealism and identity borders, societal isolation and alienation and deregularization multivocality and fragmentation, body geography and physicality and lastly memory and imagination, the monography includes the analysis of the works of Lorde, hooks, Walker, Chambers and Golden.

Involved in the individuation process, women of color autobiography writers convey experiences of a radical excision from the mother, or instances of a blind identification as the only way to achieve self-affirmation in the society. Bodily and geographical boundaries are so fluid and impermeable that protagonists cannot think of themselves but as bodies forever exiled from their interior, the surrounding environment or the very externality of their inner Selves, outsiders and incomprehensible agents to themselves. Finding themselves on a perpetual shuffle from one city, state, and continent to another, the female protagonists regard dislocation as the best positioning of the individual within the societal grid. Confronted by a reality in which everything brings forth bitter patches of reminiscence torn from the intercultural and interethnic quilt that is America, the women adopt an intentional amnesiac state, and a ``mestiza'' status as the best way to come out of the chaotic vortex of society.

The message conveyed by this paper is that everyone should try to come to terms with the Self and the Other that dwells within oneself and embrace dislocation and non-conformism as key expressions of the postmodern dynamics.

  • autobiography
  • black women
  • 21st century writings
  • postmodernism
  • american literature and culture

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