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Title: Folklore as a means to sustain African-American identity : a study of selected novels by Toni Morrison and Alice Walker
Author: Al-Halbosy, Alaa
ISNI:       0000 0004 9347 2284
Awarding Body: Bangor University
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis examines the construction of African-American identity in Toni Morrison’s trilogy, published in the decade between 1987 and 1997, Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992) and Paradise (1997) and Alice Walker’s 1982 to 1992 trilogy, The Color Purple (1982), The Temple of my Familiar (1989) and Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992). From an Afrocentric perspective, I consider the significance of African folklore for the formation, expression and maintenance of identity in African-American communities and literature. I seek to answer two main research questions; firstly, the extent to which African folklore, in Morrison and Walker’s writing, is deployed as a means to construct and interrogate African-American identity and, secondly, how developments in their use of African folklore can be traced across their respective trilogies. The thesis consists of four chapters, beginning with a literature review that situates the thesis within current scholarship on group and individual identities in relation to definitions of the folk and folklore. Chapter two moves on to closer examinations of identity, folklore and literature within the specific context of its role for African-American writers negotiating a history of trauma. Chapter three is dedicated to Toni Morrison’s trilogy and consists of three sections, each providing close textual analysis of the novels and an examination of Morrison’s reconstructions of African folklore in articulating an African-American identity that draws on African heritages of the ancestor, religion and folk practice. Chapter four is dedicated to textual analysis of Alice Walker’s trilogy and again there are three sections, each concerned with a particular novel. The focus is on how Walker reveals the complexities of tribal customs and traditions in relation W.E.B. Du Bois’s understanding of double consciousness as expressive of the conflict engendered in identities that are both African and American. The chapter ends with an analysis of the development of Walker’s approach to African custom and tradition across the novels in her trilogy.
Supervisor: Niebrzydowski, Susan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available