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Negritude Women

University of Minnesota Press

By T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting
Posted November 1, 2002
Tags Alumni Books Faculty Books
The Negritude movement, which signaled the awakening of a pan-African consciousness among black French intellectuals, has been understood almost exclusively in terms of the contributions of its male founders...In -Negritude Women, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting offers a long-overdue corrective, revealing the contributions made by the women who were not merely integral to the success of the movement but often its vanguard.

Introduction


Coined in 1936-1937 by the Martinican poet Aime Cesaire during the writing of his now celebrated -Cahier d'un retour au pays natal, the word -Negritude, denoting a poetics, a literary, cultural, and intellectual movement, signaled the birth of a Pan-Africanist literature among black Francophone writers, a "New Negro" from the Francophone world. Although the neologism is readily traceable to Cesaire, mapping the concept of Negritude as the inauguration of a black humanism, as a "theory of black cultural importance and autonomy," remains the stuff of a panoply of critical works. In efforts to provide a genealogy of Negritude, many literary historians begin its evolution by simply recovering the earliest writings of Aime Cesaire, Leon Damas, and Leopold Sedar Senghor, who have been credited with the movement's founding...-Negritude Women is, thus, an essentially female-centered literary history whose goal is to provide a corrective to male-centered analyses of Negritude. This critical feminine genealogy will trace the history of the idea of Negritude and its evolution through the essays of black Francophone women intellectuals, namely Jane Nardal, Paulette Nardal, and Suzanne Cesaire...The present volume is not especially interested in the fictional and/or poetic representations produced by women writers of the 1930-1950 era that may or may not reflect Negritude ideology, but rather with nonfictional essays that did in fact present the schema, the architecture, for a new literature and humanism in the black Francophone world.

Reviews

"-Negritude Women is a unique work that makes invaluable contributions to women's studies, Africana studies, and cultural politics. T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting sets a new standard for interdisciplinary studies." Joy James, author of -Transcending the Talented Tenth: Black Leaders and American Intellectuals and -Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender, and Race in U.S. Culture.

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