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Finding a Voice, Telling a Story: Constructing Communal Identity in Contemporary American Women's Writing

Finding a Voice, Telling a Story: Constructing Communal Identity in Contemporary American Women's Writing

Chapter:
(p.267) Chapter 13 Finding a Voice, Telling a Story: Constructing Communal Identity in Contemporary American Women's Writing
Source:
American Mythologies
Author(s):
Lois Parkinson Zamora
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9780853237365.003.0014

This chapter begins by explaining the differences between nineteenth-century male writers' privileging of silence and late twentieth-century female writers' efforts to rectify the imbalances that result from being silenced. It then discusses novels by Toni Morrison, Leslie Marmon Silko, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Sandra Cisneros in order to discover the means by which they acknowledge the threats to an autonomous female self and attempt to create a fully inclusive community that hears women's voices and fashions a new history of gender, race, and ethnic relations. Voices of the living and the dead, choruses, sounds, songs, folktales, mythic adventure stories, and different languages are some of the elements used by the novelists in this process. The chapter argues that ‘finding a voice to transcend the “nothingness” of invisible histories and cultures constitutes a feminist mode in contemporary US fiction’.

Keywords:   women authors, female writers, Toni Morrison, Leslie Marmon Silko, Maxine Hong Kingston, Sandra Cisneros, feminism

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