Publication Date

Spring 1999

Degree Granted

Ph.D.

Institution Granting Degree

University of Saskatchewan-Saskatoon

Keywords

Nigeria, Barbados, Jamaica, Orality, Writing, Cultural, Political, Anglophone, African, African-Caribbean, Caribbean, African-Canadian, Poetry

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature

Abstract

For years, critics have used Black writers' interweaving of African-derived oral textual features and European written forms to reject the concept of the Great Divide between orality and writing in literacy studies. These critics primarily see the hybridized texts of writers of African descent as a model that assists in the complex union of writing and orality. My argument is that the integrationist model is not the only way, perhaps not even the most fruitful way, to read the hybridized texts of writers of African descent. I develop a reading of Anglophone African, African-Caribbean, and African-Canadian literature that sees the synthesis of orality and writing as an emergent discourse, free of the dogmatisms of textuality and of colonial literary standards, that contributes to the cultural and political aspirations of writers of African descent. In transcribing African-derived orality into writing, Black writers emphasize the ethnic component of their African identity, thereby decolonizing their literature. Consequently, the literature functions as locus or epitome of community-created culture and counter-colonial discourse, portraying the Black writer as a self-assertive community agent with the potential for forging a new historically informed identity. My introduction identifies the scope of the study, defining what constitutes African-derived oral textual features and outlining the critical theories that will be instrumental to my analysis. I also explain why I selected the writers Wole Soyinka (African), Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Louise Bennett (African-Caribbean), Lillian Allen, Marlene Nourbese Philip, and Clifton Joseph (African-Canadian) as examples of writers who have utilized orality in writing as political and cultural expression. Chapter One provides a background to pre-colonial African oral discourse. Chapters Two, Three, and Four respectively focus on Anglophone African, African Caribbean, and African Canadian poets' uses of orality in writing to reflect an eclectic cultural heritage. A brief conclusion follows these chapters. It reaffirms my primary thesis that the dynamic union of orality and writing in Anglophone African, African-Caribbean, and African-Canadian written poetry functions as the expression of a new kind of cultural and political discourse, in search of a new audience and a critical approach that requires both Africanist and European critical perspectives.