Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


African American Studies, Africana Women's Studies, and History

First Advisor

Stephanie Y. Evans, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Stephanie Y. Sears, Ph.D.


Through a content analysis of the maternal relationships in Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mothers Gardens, the author evaluates how southern black women writers construct black motherhood. This study is based on the premise that Eurocentric paradigms of motherhood confine black mothers to controlling images that continue to criminalize, distort, and devalue black motherhood. The researcher finds that the institution of black motherhood exists independently of Eurocentric paradigms. The conclusions drawn from these findings suggest that black women writers construct motherhood in terms of Womanist leadership. In the aforementioned memoirs, Womanist leadership is learned and defined in the black church. In summation, this thesis finds that southern black women writers use spiritual reconciliation as a form of Womanist leadership.


Revisions as of 12/1/16 at 9:12 PM (PST).