VIBRATIONAL REPRIEVES: BLACK WOMEN’S SOUL FOOD NARRATIVES AS AESTHETIC SITES OF EROTIC AND SEXUAL AGENCY
My dissertation is a Black feminist inquiry into how Black women writers employ soul food imagery to equally assert their characters’ Blackness and sexual agency in post-Black Arts texts. These include Gayl Jones’ Eva’s Man (1976), Ntozake Shange’s Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo (1982), Gloria Naylor’s Bailey’s Café (1992), and TT Bridgeman’s Pound Cake for Sweet Pea (2004). These novelists tell complex stories of Black women’s grappling with respectability, trauma, and erotic and sexual agency. In each novel, these Black women share a common reliance upon soul food that is often underexamined in critical scholarship. I argue that soul food is essential to how Black women cope with the duality of pleasure and pain by helping them assert liberated senses-of-self amidst sexism and its attendant emotional and physical violence. I also conceptualize this coping as a vibrational reprieve.
- Doctor of Philosophy
- American Studies
- West Lafayette