Black Professional Women in Recent American Fiction

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McFarland, Nov 26, 2003 - Literary Criticism - 227 pages
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The last three decades of the 20th century have marked the triumph of many black professional women against great odds in the workplace. Despite their success, few novels celebrate their accomplishments. Black middle-class professional women want to see themselves realistically portrayed by protagonists who work to achieve significant productivity and visibility in their careers, desire stability in their personal lives, aspire to accrue wealth, and live elegantly though not consumptively. The author contends that most recent American realistic fiction fails to represent black professional women protagonists performing their work effectively in the workplace. Identifying the extent to which contemporary novels satisfy the “readerly desires” of black middle-class women readers, this book investigates why the readership wants the texts, as well as what they prefer in the books they buy. It also examines the technical and cultural factors that contribute to the lack of books with self-empowered black professional female protagonists, and considers The Salt Eaters by Toni Cade Bambara and Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan, two novels that function as significant markers in the development of contemporary black women writers’ texts.

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The Dearth of SelfActualized Black Professional Women Protagonists
One Consumer Desire for SelfEmpowered Black Professional Women Protagonists
Craft and Culture Challenges to Black Professional Womens Representation
Production and Market Social Challenges
Feminism and Nationalism Conflicts in The Salt Eaters
Rethinking Agency in Waiting to Exhale
Reader Response Findings and Applications

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About the author (2003)

Carmen Rose Marshall is a professor of English at John Tyler Community College in Richmond, Virginia. She lives in Richmond.

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