As scholars increasingly reconsider the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Courtney Thorsson's Women's Work stands at the cutting edge of scholarship that assesses the legacy of that movement for black women writers. Thorsson theorizes a strand of contemporary African American women's novels that “reclaim and revise cultural nationalism” (1) as a literary discourse and everyday practice. Through meticulous, original readings of Toni Cade Bambara's The Salt Eaters (1980), Ntozake Shange's Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo (1982), Paule Marshall's Praisesong for the Widow (1983), Gloria Naylor's Mama Day (1988), and Toni Morrison's Paradise (1997), Thorsson argues that these “novels of the cultural nationalist revision” (4, 12) theorize a cultural nationalism that depends upon “shared longing and radical imagining” (12) as performed through practices of organizing, cooking, dancing, mapping, and inscribing. “Women's work” names the fictional activities through which characters imagine a...
Re-enchanted with the Work
emily j. lordi is assistant professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is the author of Black Resonance: Iconic Women Singers and African American Literature and a forthcoming book on the album Donny Hathaway Live. She is also writing a musical-literary history of the concept of “soul.”
Emily J. Lordi; Re-enchanted with the Work. Novel 1 May 2016; 49 (1): 162–165. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-3458373
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