Date of Award

5-1-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

School

School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Ph.D.

First Advisor

Dr. Georgene Bess-Montgomery

Second Advisor

Dr. Charles Duncan

Third Advisor

Dr. Alma Vinyard

Abstract

This study examines gender (re)presentation in three carefully selected works: Brown

Girl, Brownstones; The Color Purple; and When Rocks Dance. Employing the

scholarship of women writers of the Diaspora, I contend that the works dismantle and

(re)construct gender identities. Where traditional notions of sexuality depict men as

masculine and women as feminine, this analysis interrogates and subverts the traditional

paradigm. Methodologically, the dissertation combines literary analysis, post-colonial

studies, and gender schema theory into an interdisciplinary approach. I begin by

exploring gender construction to establish a theoretical perspective for characters who

reject traditional heteronormative paradigms. I then extend recent critical discussions on

gender and post-colonialism by examining the relationships between the men and women

in each literary text. I contend that traditional notion of characters as homosexual or

lesbian is dismantled and (re)constructed, thereby resulting in characters who embrace

their femininity or masculinity in a more balanced construction of personality, which is

the key to their self-actualization.

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