Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D. in English

Department

English

First Advisor

Adetayo Alabi

Second Advisor

George Dor

Third Advisor

Adam Gussow

Abstract

This project examines the ways in which Black men in Africa and throughout the African Diaspora define themselves as gendered beings in their fiction and drama beginning with Richard Wright's publication of Native Son in 1940 to Mariama Ba's So Long a Letter published 1980. Black men created a transnational dialectic concerning their masculinity which involved the creation and criticism of several types of masculinity. In Chapters 1 and 2, I discuss the theoretical and the historical framework for this project. In Chapter 3, I discuss the first type of Black masculinity which was based in opposition to Euro-American stereotypes about African men and Black men in the New World. In chapter 4, I examine how Black male writers recognized the diversity within Africa and the Diaspora and consequently created masculine characters who reflected their local cultures. In Chapter 5, I analyze texts by Black women that critiqued Black men for silencing Black women in their texts. In Chapter 6, I discuss texts that feature Black male protagonists who grasp toward a definition of masculinity which actually depends upon gender complementarity and community harmony rather than individualized notions of masculinity. The concluding chapter explores a vitriolic disagreement between James Baldwin and Eldridge Cleaver and summarizes previous chapters. I have included an Appendix with other texts and issues which concern Black masculinity for future studies.

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