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Naturally Woman: The Search for Self in Black Women’s Literature

Sharon Morgan Beckford

Naturally Woman: The Search for Self in Black Women’s Literature


Black Canadian women must constantly incorporate changes to their identities to face the challenges of living in a multicultural society. Naturally Woman: The Search for Self in Black Canadian Women’s Literature examines the ways in which Black immigrant women must adapt to survive in a multicultural country such as Canada without losing their sense of self. The author examines the texts of five major modern/contemporary Canadian writers: Dionne Brand, Marlene Nourbese Philip, Tessa McWatt, Claire Harris, and Makeda Silvera, through prismatic criticism and by applying and extending a number of feminist discourses concerning Black women writing: identity, literary representations of female sojourn in Canada (as simultaneously aboveground and underground), feminist archetypal/myth criticism, and the discourse of mother/daughter/grandmother/substitute mother relationships. The book argues that there is a universal central myth on which the writings of these marginalized women are based and shows how some of the challenges of multiculturalism can be overcome, and how multiculturalism can become a site for creativity and innovation.

This groundbreaking book demonstrates how Black women writers in Canada retell the Demeter myth as ways of explaining the issues associated with change, migration, and individuation. The book claims these stories as neo-mythic narratives of African Diasporic epic journeys, and as part of the narrative of the wider Great Migration of Blacks in the Americas.

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