Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Humanities (PhD)

Department

Humanities

First Advisor

Timothy Askew, Ph.D./ Georgene Bess-Montgomery, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Ralph Ellis, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Huie Cunningham, Ph.D.

Abstract

Colonization adversely impacts the psychological health of the colonized. To heal psychologically, economically, and culturally and break chains of colonization in a post-colonial society, the colonized must be grounded in understanding and embrace of their cultural and historical heritage. This embrace and remembrance of the ancestors will inspire and create a spiritual and mental revolution. Prominent literary works from 16th to 20th century, such as Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition and "Dave’s Neckliss", William Shakespeare’s "The Tempest" and Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, explore the psychological and cultural demise of people of African descent due to colonization and racial oppression. While these works give voice to spiritual leaders, ancestors, and bondaged individuals who strive to overcome and survive adverse circumstances Eurocentric society has imposed upon them, these texts also explore characters who kneel at the altar of White hegemony and embrace Whiteness as the Ark of God, even to the characters’ and their community’s safety and well-being. These I term Black Eurocentric Saviors, characters who sacrifice themselves and their community for safety and saving of Whites.

Through application of French West Indian psychiatrist Frantz Fanon's theories of colonization which posits that imposed psychological domination of the colonized by Europeans cultivated the belief in White superiority and the subsequent desire for White approval and blessings by any means necessary, including worshipping Whiteness, betraying other persons of African descent, and/or willing to kill self or other Blacks for both the continued prosperity of White societies and gained prosperity for self. Chesnutt, Shakespeare, and Behn depict oppressed people who (un)consciously appear to embrace with open arms historical narratives and cultural traditions that relegate them to second-class citizens and are thus unable to nurture mythical origins and pride in their ancestral history and legacy. When they seek to conjure their African ancestors, they do so, not for their freedom or elevation, but for betterment of White society. Through the application of Fanon's theories on colonization to select literary works of Chesnutt, Shakespeare, and Behn's, this dissertation asserts that the diasporic African’s embrace of White superiority resulted and continues today in both real life and literature.

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