Self-Discovery and a Sense of Wholeness in the Transgressive Auto/biogrAfrical Discourses of African American Women Writers

Author:- U. H. Ruhina Jesmin
Category:- Journal; Year:- 2022
Discipline:- English Discipline
School:- Arts & Humanities School


The paper attempts to explore selected African American women writers’ (Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde, and Alice Walker) self-discovery, celebration of their selfhood, and sense of wholeness in their auto/biogrAfrical discourses. Instrumental rhetoricity of the autobiographers reflects politicization of black women’s struggle, cultural (de)construction, and feminist/womanist (re)construction. Instead of fitting into heteronormative discourses and a process of cultural assimilation, and of adhering to cultural codes of femininity, these writers transgress traditional norms of behavior. Through autobiographical manifestos interwoven with self-defining identity and artistic transgression, they powerfully assert notions of collective female agency and embrace their new-found identity as feminist/womanist/queer. As an agent of awareness and proclamation, their (except Hurston’s) powerful rhetoric is infused with their triple consciousness of being a black woman with African background and cultural pride. They illustrate an interconnectedness of racism and sexism which causes double oppression on black women. They boldly raise racial issues of universal significance, stick to their authentic selves, and reaffirm their agonizing black history/past as they journey toward maturity and wholeness. Their discourses reflect an interweaving of past and present, individual and community, and personal and political changes which lead them toward an esthetic paradigm of wholeness.

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