This research is concerned with the question of embodiment and body representation in plays written by African American women playwrights during the twentieth century. It starts with the early 1920s and ends around the turn of the twentyfirst century. This project negotiates issues of bodily manifestations and the evolvement of this manifestation from one decade to the next. My research is divided into an introduction, six chapters, and a conclusion; each chapter is concerned with examining bodily representation in a certain era. Chronologically presented, the chapters attempt to answer how embodiment at the beginning and at the close of the twentieth century differs. Although the better-known playwrights Susan-Lori Parks, Adrienne Kennedy and Ntozake Shange and the lesser-known playwrights Alice Childress, Sonia Sanchez (better known as a poet), and Marita Bonner share a concern with what might be called the “raced body,” they also seem to share a certain type of maternal heritage passed from one playwright to another. Therefore, this research contributes to the existing scholarship by, firstly, establishing a literary genealogy between African American women playwrights through their shared interest in the utilisation of the body-in-the-world as a form of resistance. Secondly, I present these playwrights as phenomenologists; through using this political body as a way of experiencing the world and experimenting with it, as a way of being in the world, those playwrights –in both modern and postmodern eras—become interpreters of and experimenters with meaning. Their perpetual commitment to defining the position of African American subject, especially that of African American woman, is entwined with an experimental approach of a black body that lives, registers, interprets, and attempts to re-write the hyphenated body (body-in-the-world).
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