'Remembered':the power of narrative to build community, shatter silence and reclaim the past

Battle-Felton, Yvonne (2017) 'Remembered':the power of narrative to build community, shatter silence and reclaim the past. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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This thesis is in two parts. First, a novel that explores motherhood, community, silence, identity, family, stereotypes and racism to illustrate the legacy of slavery by implicitly drawing parallels between the American past and the American present. The novel explores answers to questions about silence, reuniting the Black American family after the Emancipation, representing diverse characters, ethically portraying emancipated slave characters, and writing about slavery. In 'Remembered', a framed narrative, the past haunts the present in the form of Tempe, in the structure of the novel, and in the central conflicts within the narrative. In the second part of the thesis I draw on explicit parallels between the past and the present to investigate the legacy of slavery both on the page and in contemporary American society. Throughout the creative reflection I examine the silencing of Black America both in life and in literature. This discussion explores the legacy of slavery including structural racism, lynching, denial and the erasure of black voices. In Chapter Two, I discuss the power of literature to build community, the importance of writing to reclaim story and identity, and the ethics of doing so. Chapter Three of the thesis is a creative examination of my writing practice. In this chapter I create a fictionalized version of my practice-based research project North West Literary Salon to reflect on my aims, challenges and process. The thesis concludes with Chapter Four, a discussion of motherhood that focuses on representations of black mothers in literature. The discussion examines close readings of selected texts including ‘Remembered’ to demonstrate the importance of context. Overall, my thesis aims to provoke dialogue that challenges the rhetoric of oppression, that gives voice to diverse characters, and that shatters silences. Unless Americans recognize the importance of diverse stories and diverse characters both on and off the page, like Spring, we will forever be haunted by the past.

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Thesis (PhD)
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25 Apr 2017 09:10
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 03:29