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Reconfiguring the American Family

Title: Reconfiguring the American Family: Alternate Paradigms in African American and Latina Familial Configurations.
Name(s): Wright, Mary Elizabeth, author
Braendlin, Bonnie, professor directing dissertation
Nudd, Donna, outside committee member
Saladin, Linda, committee member
McGregory, Jerrilyn, committee member
Department of English, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2002
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: In the United States authors whose work concerns ethnicity face a host of problems, of which the most obvious remains the preconceived notion that ethnicthemed literature is subordinate to Eurocentric literary work. Despite continued racial and ethnic prejudices, many women of color writing within the past thirty years work to triumph over such categorical stereotypes and through their efforts earned Nobel and Pulitzer prizes and tremendous readership loyalties. The African American and Latina women discussed in this dissertation stand up against the ideological, cultural, sociohistorical, and political voices still attempting to repress them, as they write to disseminate and preserve specific ethnic and cultural ideologies and practices. Through rewriting the Freudian family romance into family narratives, they explicitly express cultural identity. By asserting difference concerning families and communities, specifically in a society still largely resistant but more accepting of ethnic and cultural practices, these women insure that values and practices from their own respective backgrounds will survive assimilation attempts from the culture at large. As a result, in addition to identifying with a similar readership, they instruct those from dissimilar backgrounds about cultural ideologies to shrinIn this study I aim to identify and discuss how portrayals of fictional families and communities in contemporary African American and Latina literature serve as valuable pedagogical tools in the advancement of a truly heterogeneous society. To accomplish this end, I utilize selective texts from four authors whose publishing histories range from 1970 to the present: Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye 1970; Paule Marshall, Praisesong for the Widow 1984; Julia Alvarez, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents 1991; and Cristina Garcia, Dreaming in Cuban 1992. I focus on the methods each writer engages from her specific cultural heritage to redefine the Eurocentric, middle-class American nuclear family into one that adequately represents our pluralistic culture. In resisting a dominant discourse that protects and promotes a nuclear family ideology, these authors construct paradigmatic narratives that preserve multifaceted family and communal ideologies, specifically extended families and reliance upon communal support, of African American, Dominican American, and Cuban American (Latina/o) value systems. In order to support ethnic variations as positive elements in a multicultural society and to redefine the American family as a varied and inclusive entity where an extended family or one comprised of a variety of nonconsanguine members is just as valid as a nuclear family, we must create additional familial paradigms to the Freudian family romance. Texts that privilege a multiplicity of configurations help readers of all identities achieve a greater sense of ownership in this country that calls itself pluralistic.k the discursive boundaries between "dominant" and "subordinate" groups.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-0747 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Degree Awarded: Fall Semester, 2002.
Date of Defense: Date of Defense: October 11, 2002.
Keywords: Latina families, African-american families, American family
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory committee: Bonnie Braendlin, Professor Directing Dissertation; Donna Nudd, Outside Committee Member; Linda Saladin, Committee Member; Jerrilyn McGregory, Committee Member.
Subject(s): English literature
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Wright, M. E. (2002). Reconfiguring the American Family: Alternate Paradigms in African American and Latina Familial Configurations. Retrieved from