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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Periodic embodiments': a ubiquitous trope in African men's writing
Author:Stratton, F.ISNI
Year:1990
Periodical:Research in African Literatures
Volume:21
Issue:1
Pages:111-126
Language:English
Geographic term:Subsaharan Africa
Subjects:women
symbols
literature
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3819304
Abstract:The embodiment of Africa (or of any of its nations) in the figure of a woman is a literary commonplace or topos, a recurring feature in a male literary tradition that can be traced back at least as far as the Negritude movement of the 1930s. (Senghor's 'Black Woman' provides a prototypical example.) The author presents a chronological record of some high points in the trope's colonial and postcolonial history, discerning two lines of development that sometimes coalesce: 'the pot of culture' strand, which analogizes woman to traditional values or a bygone culture; and 'the sweep of history' strand, which revises the Negritude analogy into woman employed as an index of the changing state of the nation. The record shows that the trope is ubiquitous. It is not just a periodic feature of the male written tradition; it is one of its defining features. Since the trope does not occur in the same form, if at all, in works by African women writers, the author also examines the question of whether the trope serves the interests of men and is detrimental to the interests of women. Her conclusion is that, even in the texts of writers lauded by feminist critics for their contribution to the emancipation of women, this trope operates against the interests of women, excluding them, implicitly or explicitly, from authorship and citizenship. Bibliogr., notes, ref.
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