Date of Award

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Committee Member

Dr. Rhondda Thomas, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Angela Naimou

Committee Member

Dr. Michael LeMahieu

Abstract

I am examining the portrayal of gender fluidity in Gloria Naylor's 'Bailey's Café (1992) and Alice Walker's 'The Color Purple' (1992). Both authors show how a break from gender assumptions makes the lives of their doubly marginalized characters easier. My thesis redefines the notion of gender fluidity by examining it through the lens of intersectionality. By looking at how numerous factors such as race and gender work together, I introduce a new concept known as Black gender fluidity, a form of gender fluidity that many African Americans use to fight oppression. Black gender fluidity, unlike gender fluidity occurs because a lot of African Americans were unable to conform to gender assumptions due to racial oppression. Unfortunately, there is numerous criticism against members of the African Americans who defy gender norms. This thesis shows how Naylor and Walker celebrate the Black gender fluid actions of their main characters, who are predominately African American women, by reclaiming negative stereotypes against African American women such as the Jezebel and the Sapphire.

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