Date of Degree

6-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

English

Advisor

Lyn Di Iorio

Committee Members

Robert Reid-Pharr

Barbara Webb

Subject Categories

African American Studies | American Literature | Caribbean Languages and Societies | Latin American Literature | Latina/o Studies | Literature in English, Anglophone outside British Isles and North America | Literature in English, North America | Women's Studies

Keywords

women, Caribbean, American, anger, genre, space

Abstract

This dissertation examines how women’s anger sparks the bending of genre, which ultimately leads to the development of space in the work of three Caribbean-American authors: Jamaica Kincaid, Rosario Ferré, and Irene Vilar. Women often occupy subject positions that restrict them, and women writers harness the anger provoked by such limitations to test the traditional borders of genre and create new forms that better reflect their realities.

These three writers represent Anglophone and Hispanophone Caribbean literary traditions and are united by their interest in addressing feminist issues in their work. Accordingly, my research is guided by the feminist theoretical frameworks provided by Sylvia Wynter, Virginia Woolf, Audre Lorde, Sara Ahmed, and Aurora Levins Morales. I examine novels and memoirs by these authors from the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries, utilizing close reading to examine the deployment of themes mentioned above. Kincaid, Ferré, and Vilar write and re-write on the same content, often related to familial topics, across works and across genres and subgenres. They will, for example, tell the same story both fictionally and nonfictionally, shift the narrative focus from one character to another, or even re-write as a corrective for initial omissions. This revisiting of material over several publications is itself another way these authors take up space with their writing.

Though this process of anger leading to genre bending and resulting in the creation of space occurs with all three authors, each chapter focuses on one step and the author who best exemplifies that step. Chapter 1 examines anger and Jamaica Kincaid, Chapter 2 studies genre bending and Rosario Ferré, and Chapter 3 explores space and Irene Vilar. In its totality, this dissertation shows how coping with constraints can lead to the formation of creative and enlivening new writing and writing styles.

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