Race, Gender and the Vernacular in the Works of African American and Mexican American Women Authors

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GRIN Verlag, 2011 - 116 pages
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Thesis (M.A.) from the year 2009 in the subject American Studies - Literature, grade: 1,3, University of Freiburg (Englisches Seminar II), language: English, abstract: In this paper, it shall be examined how African American and Mexican American women writers have both developed highly innovative narrative strategies in order to establish their literary voice in which to express their experiences of being women belonging to an ethnic minority. Rather than attempting a direct comparison between the works of African and Mexican American women writers, I shall focus on the methods writers of both ethnicities have used in order to establish two separate literary traditions of female expression. My observations shall be based on texts by Zora Neale Hurston and Sandra Cisneros. Despite the fact that the works were written decades apart and thus also mirror major differences in the social and cultural development of the US, I will show that it is possible to draw significant parallels between them. Besides, the different contemporary reception of their work can be considered an indication of how much the American literary canon has changed in the last decades of the 20th century. Gender and race are important aspects in the works of both African American and Mexican American writers. Women writers of these two ethnicities have used different narrative devices to depict the themes of marginalization and discrimination, as well as issues of racial, sexual and artistic empowerment of women. The transgression of traditional gender roles and the questioning of gender boundaries and categories are a vital part of their works. The quest for a collective identity is another frequent theme in the works of African American and Mexican American women writers. However, as is to be shown in this paper, the treatment of this topic can be considered one of the most crucial difference markers between African American and Mexican America

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