Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Adam F. Bradley

Second Advisor

Michael Preston

Third Advisor

Ed Rivers

Fourth Advisor

Cheryl Higashida

Fifth Advisor

David Jackson

Abstract

“Ooman’s Wuk: Gullah Womanism in the Creative Works of African American Women” investigates Gullah history and culture as a usable past for modern African American female artists. This project explores the history of rice production and the vital but under-discussed role of women that led to the African retentions still at work on the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia. By exploring the often disavowed female roles, this dissertation argues that once acknowledged, the Gullah woman’s role as ‘keepa a da kulca’ formulates a Gullah womanism or a form of cultural and community activism that is found in the daily lives of the female descendants of Africans living on the Sea Islands. I argue that the novels of Gloria Naylor and Paule Marshall as well as Julie Dash’s film Daughters of the Dust reveal the ways in which African American women utilize Gullah cultural practices, folklore, and language and through their creative productions reshape and extend women-centered discourses.

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