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Empowering Strategies at Home in the Works of Nikki Giovanni and Rita Dove
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Humanities.
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis focuses on the presence of Black women characters in domestic contexts in the early poetry of African American poets Nikki Giovanni and Rita Dove and examines the strategies these women employ, individually and in close relationships, in order to empower themselves and sustain those around them. It provides a joint exploration of the work of two major contemporary poets from a literary and interdisciplinary perspective, mapping instances of the poetic expression of Black feminist politics. The theoretical approach builds on a range of understandings of empowerment, strategy, and the central importance of home in an African American context, as conceptualized primarily in the work of Black feminists, in particular Patricia Hill Collins and bell hooks. Structurally, the study follows the cycle of a woman’s life from girlhood to old age. Thus, poems involving the empowerment strategies of girls at home are explored first. They are followed by poems where the domestic lives of adult women and then elderly women are addressed, with a focus on their respective empowering strategies. Discussed last are strategies of empowerment evident in the interactions of (largely) Black women of different generations in poems depicting intergenerational contacts and relationships.

Homeplaces created by Black women have historically been experienced as sheltering African Americans from the perils of the dominant white society and thereby Black women’s domestic experiences have generally been linked to privilege rather than to confinement and victimization. In the poems, when at home, Black women utilize different strategies to assert themselves and each other, implicitly or explicitly, emerging strong and resilient, even though sometimes they may merely derive satisfaction from their poor circumstances. Strong connections to the past and a sense of belonging, partaking in legacies and storytelling, as well as memory, imagination, dreaming and hiding, are recurring elements of their empowerment processes. However, their enjoyment of loving bonds and their sharing of African-derived knowledges and ways of being emerge as the most significant aspects contributing to their empowerment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundsvall: Mid Sweden University , 2017. , 226 p.
Series
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 270
Keyword [en]
American Literature, African American, Poetry, Black feminism, Women, Girls, Strategy, Empowerment, Home, Domestic, Knowledge, Nikki Giovanni, Rita Dove
National Category
Languages and Literature Specific Literatures Gender Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-31339ISBN: 978-91-88527-27-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-31339DiVA: diva2:1130681
Public defence
2017-09-28, M 102, Holmgatan 10, Sundsvall, 13:00 (English)
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Supervisors
Available from: 2017-08-10 Created: 2017-08-10 Last updated: 2017-08-22Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
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  • asciidoc
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