Chapter

Reading as Listening: The Southern Folk Aesthetic

Madhu Dubey

in Signs and Cities

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2003 | ISBN: 9780226167268
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226167282 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226167282.003.0005
Reading as Listening: The Southern Folk Aesthetic

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This chapter examines the ways in which the rural South works as a stimulant for the postmodern African–American literary imagination and the kinds of resolutions it yields to problems of urban literary representation. It focuses on Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon and Gloria Naylor's Mama Day, because these two novels admit, often self-reflexively but sometimes inadvertently, the difficulties plaguing their own use of the rural South as a device of literary resolution to postmodern urban problems. These difficulties become manifest in Morrison's and Naylor's contradictory treatments of two interconnected systems of cultural value—magic and oral tradition—that are embedded in the rural South and presented as the distinguishing marks of an integral black community.

Keywords: African–American literature; rural South; postmodern literary imagination; urban literary representation; Toni Morrison; Gloria Naylor; magic; oral tradition; black community

Chapter.  19358 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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