Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




African American Literature

Committee Member

Ladrica Menson-Furr

Committee Member

Reginald Martin


"Wildness in the Twilight: Contemporary Black Women's Literature and the Politics of Resistance" examine the work of four contemporary, black female authors--Alice Walker, Michelle Cliff, Nalo Hopkinson and Octavia Butler. The study identifies a quality in these women's writings called wildness. Wildness is a system of negotiations in which the women of these novels choose essentialized roles for themselves in order to gain some power and agency in worlds where they have been marginalized. These essentialized roles are numerous and the women move among them in the space of the novel. The women of these novels inhabit many role including mothers, wives, prostitutes, saints, slaves, performers, nurses and teachers. These roles help them to survive their harsh living conditions and to help others do the same. Wildness combines black feminist and womanist theories with strategic essentialism and postcolonial theory. The concempt of intersectionality and strategic essentialism are the foundation for wildness. Intersectionality is the idea that racial discrimination is mitigated or amplified by other identity markers such as gender and class. Strategic essentialism is a term coined by Gayatri Spivak that describes the ways oppressed groups collect under one, essentialized identity to build solidarity. To aid in the distresses black women have faced as a marginalized group, black feminism and womanism are approaches that shift paradigms of knowledge to include the black female experience and value the contributions of black female scholars. Wildness accounts for not only the ways race, class and gender coalesce to marginalize but the essentialized roles inhabited in order to gain some agency. Those roles can also serve as a source of discrimination as well as a method to resist it.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.