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ERIC Number: EJ1160961
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1358-684X
"Let Me Tell You How It Really Was": Authority, Legitimacy and Fictive Structures of Reality in Contemporary Black Women's Autobiography
Scafe, Suzanne
Changing English: Studies in Culture and Education, v17 n2 p129-139 2010
This paper focuses on three autobiographical narratives: Jacqueline Walker's "Pilgrim State", "Sugar and Slate" by Charlotte Williams and "In Search of Mr. McKenzie" by Isha McKenzie-Mavinga and Thelma Perkins. It situates these texts by contemporary black British women in relation to a tradition of black autobiographical writing that begins with nineteenth-century slave narratives and continues with the production of some early twentieth-century autobiographical "bildungsroman". These earlier narratives chart a progressive movement upwards, from an origin in slavery, poverty and/or colonial oppression to a qualified freedom, authenticated by the representation of a self achieved in and through literacy and the authority of a literary text. Self-inscription becomes, in these texts, a means of opposing structures of historical, social and literary exclusion and forms the basis for the revision of excluding practices. While attesting to "the real", these contemporary autobiographical narratives, like their literary forebears, subvert generic conventions, blurring the boundaries between autobiography and biography, fiction and "truth-telling". The selves inscribed by these contemporary works reflect both the fractures of their generic form and the disrupted geographies from which the autobiographical self emerges. In each location--the Caribbean, America and Britain--the black and female identities of these autobiographical subjects are invented and reinvented both to resist and to "bear witness against the racism, sexism and classism" of the institutions they encounter.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A