The notion of the négresse, even though derogatory, is often used in post-slavery narratives in reference to the black female body. However, the representations of this notion and the persona is rooted in white patriarchal hegemony and its enabling institutions. I explore in this research, the representations of the négresse in literary narratives that recount her lived experiences through the historical events of slavery and in the contemporary structure of post-slavery. I theorize the concepts of trauma, and marronnage in the lived experiences of the black female body in the structure of post-slavery through the reading of Maryse Condé’s Moi, Tituba sorcière…Noire de Salem, Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Marie-Célie Agnant’s Le livre d’Emma. I use these three texts because they portray an identical characterization of the négresse that fits into the spatiotemporal continuums of slavery and post-slavery. This research aims to examine the concept of post-slavery as a contemporary ideology yet historically dependent, based on transferred racial-gendered prejudices that the négresse experiences. I reveal the historical construction and representation of the négresse as a model by which the contemporary black female body is defined and by which the négresse’s contemporary lived experiences are formed. I identify Eurocentric and male hegemonic narratives as limitations that repress the stories of the négresse. Therefore, this thesis supports the need for more intersectional criticism specific to the black female body.
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Thesis advisor: Calderon, Jorge
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