Conjuring Moments in African American Literature: Women, Spirit Work, and Other Such Hoodoo

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9781137270474: Conjuring Moments in African American Literature: Women, Spirit Work, and Other Such Hoodoo
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The monograph engages the ways African American authors have shifted, recycled, and reinvented the conjure woman in twentieth century fiction, constructing a historiography of the conjure woman as a recurring literary archetype. I develop a new vocabulary and framework (conjuring moments) with which to articulate a critical discourse surrounding the black conjuring woman and the use of African-centered cosmologies as a trope in African American literature. I argue that within the last century, African American writers have subverted the negative connotation of women and spirit work through their literary expressions. The conjure woman figure has evolved as a bio-mythography used to resist the subjugation and marginalization of black women and provides critical socio-cultural commentary, a role currently unmatched by other black female models and characterizations.

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About the Author:

Kameelah Martin Samuel is an Assistant Professor of English at Georgia State University, USA.

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"Advancing four primary arguments, Conjuring Moments in African American Literature calls for a closer examination of the black conjure woman as artistic trope and of spirit work by black women as a theme to assess this woman and her work as cultural icon and cultural tradition. A key strength of the book is the author's familiarity with and engagement of a wide range of texts and ideas that enliven her cultural readings of the texts and the traditions it engages. Rather than simply examining the black woman conjurers' role as an autonomous figure, Martin shows the conjurers relation to other folk figures, particularly these figures' roles as patriarchal power brokers whose power the conjure woman subverts and challenges. A meaningful contribution to scholarship on Black women, their texts, and conjuring as folk tradition." - Dana A. Williams, Professor of African American and Literature Chair, Department of English, Howard University

'Martin provides ground-breaking critical insights for examining the role of the conjure woman in African American literature. She positions this often overlooked character as one with the potential to expand how we understand black womanhood, for the conjure woman is a vital force that is neither contained to physicality and patriarchal oppression, nor within ideologies of religion, gender, and sexuality. Martin's work thus serves to advance conversations in black feminist criticism by offering a 'discourse, vocabulary, and paradigm' for interrogating the conjure woman alongside, but also separate from, figures such as the tragic mulatta, the mammy, and the jezebel. The project is well conceived and beautifully written in fluid language that makes it a pleasure to read. It is a must-read for scholars of African American literature, black feminist thought, and folklore studies.' - Lovalerie King, Director of the Africana Research Center and Associate Professor of African American Studies and Women's Studies, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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