This book examines how African-American writers and visual
artists interweave icon and inscription in order to re-present the
black female body, traditionally rendered alien and inarticulate
within Western discursive and visual systems. Brown considers how
the writings of Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones, Paule Marshall, Edwidge
Danticat, Jamaica Kincaid, Andrea Lee, Gloria Naylor, and Martha
Southgate are bound to such contemporary, postmodern visual artists
as Lorna Simpson, Carrie Mae Weems, Kara Walker, Betye Saar, and
Faith Ringgold. While the artists and authors rely on radically
different media-photos, collage, video, and assembled objects, as
opposed to words and rhythm-both sets of intellectual activists
insist on the primacy of the black aesthetic. Both assert artistic
agency and cultural continuity in the face of the oppression,
social transformation, and cultural multiplicity of the late
twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. This book examines how
African-American performative practices mediate the tension between
the ostensibly de-racialized body politic and the hyper-racialized
black, female body, reimagining the cultural and political ground
that guides various articulations of American national belonging.
Brown shows how and why black women writers and artists matter as
agents of change, how and why the form and content of their works
must be recognized and reconsidered in the increasingly frenzied
arena of cultural production and political debate.
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