'THERE WAS TROUBLE LONG BEFORE I WAS AWARE OF IT': CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN WRITERS, DISCURSIVE REDEFINITION, AND THE SPECULATIVE
Hamilton, Regina Danielle
Why do contemporary African American women writers engage the speculative, and what kind of work does this engagement lend itself to? What is the relationship between the realized experiences of African American women in the 1970s and 1980s and the speculative work by African American women authors of the same time period? What historical, political, and aesthetic labor does this relationship do? Using Kindred by Octavia Butler and Beloved by Toni Morrison, I will investigate how these particular authors use the speculative to engage memory and the legacy of African American enslavement, while creating a contemporary African American female aesthetic. In this second renaissance of black women's letters, also cotemporaneous with second wave feminism, African American women writers were responding to civil rights and "mainstream" feminist movements in both their critical and creative work. It became important to many African American women writers to undo the elision of black female perspectives from the histories, trajectories, and traditions of both African American (male) and (white) feminist centered canons. Often this critical literary re-fashioning of the African American woman subject mirrored the revolutionary actions of black feminists working for the enfranchisement of black women and communities. Many African American women writers, in borrowing from certain Black Arts Movement modalities, argued for the existence of and the necessity to define a black female aesthetic. The use of the speculative is one very important component of the aesthetic that these writers were in the process of defining in this time period.
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