Intersections of African-American Womanist Literary Approaches and Paradigms of Ethical Literary Criticism
Keywords: ethical literary criticism, womanist ethics, womanist literature, values, ethical identity
AbstractAlthough black American womanist literary perspectives and ethical literary criticism theory emerged from different socio-cultural contexts, a number of intersections between the two can be discerned. One of the objectives of this paper is to analyze the reasons for which some Chinese scholars and African-American women literary theoreticians are skeptical of mainstream Western literary criticism schools, which they view as insufficient for exploring works of literature derived from fusions of non-Western and Western cultural contexts. Secondly, the paper elucidates the particular value systems exhibited by fictional characters portrayed by the African-American women writers under survey. At this juncture, the means by which the writers challenge value systems based upon Western essentialist racial conceptualizations will be given primary attention. Also, the historical context of the development of womanist ethics and literary practice, particularly the manifestation of original social ethics in response to historical oppression, will be focused upon. Lastly, the didactic function of womanist literature will be considered because, more often than not, black American woman writers have endeavored to produce fiction that serves as guideposts towards conflict resolutions, involving, to a great extent, revaluation of mainstream values.
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