AFRICAN IMAGE IN AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE: A CASE STUDY OF LANGSTON HUGHES’ THE PANTHER AND THE LASH: POEMS OF OUR TIME AND YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA’S PLEASURE DOME: NEW AND COLLECTED POEMS


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title page
Abstracts
Table of contents

CHAPTER ONE
1.1. Background
1.2. Statement of the Problem
1.3. Objectives of the Study
1.4. Scope and Limitation of the Study
1.5. Justification / Significance of the Study
1.6. Methodology
1.7. Exploration of African American Society and Their Literary Experience
1.8. The Development of African American Poetry
1.9.1. A Brief History of Langston Hughes and Yusef Komunyakaa
1.9.2. A Brief History of Langston Hughes
1.9.3. A Brief History of Yusef Komunyakaa
Works Cited

CHAPTER TWO
2.1. Literature Review
2.3. New Historicism as a Theoretical Framework
2.3. Historical Development of New Historicism
2.4. The Distinct Ideas / Tenets of New Historicists
2.5. Questions for Textual Analysis
Works Cited

CHAPTER THREE
3.1.      The Blues Tradition and Black Man’s Dilemma in Langston Hughes‟ The Panther And The Lash: Poems Of Our Times
Works Cited

CHAPTER FOUR
4.1. Black Consciousness and Memory of Africa as Inspiration in Yusef Komunyakaa’s Pleasure Doom: New and Collected Poems
Works Cited

CHAPTER FIVE
5.1. Conclusion
Bibliography



ABSTRACT


This thesis is concerned with the how image of Africa is presented in African American literature using Langston Hughes‟ The Panther and the Lash: Poems of our Time (1964) and

Yusef Komunyakaa‟s Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems (2001). The study employs New Historicism as an analytical tool to explore how the African American writers use poetry as a mouthpiece to assert their African origin at a period when it was widely believed by the Eurocentric critics that African Americans have totally lost Africanness. It also shows how the fusion of two distinct cultures has led to the emergence of a hybrid culture that has produced a great art, and concludes that societies should focus more on what unites them than what divides them in order to foist a more united and prosperous society. African image in the context of this research centres on the issues of slavery, racism, identity formation, disenchantment, struggle for freedom and integration. The presence of African image in the African American literary creation is anindication of their consciousness of Africa as their ancestry and their acceptance of dual heritage in U.S.A. The study is not concerned with a comparative analysis despite using two poets from two different literary eras; it rather focuses on the connection between the two poetic eras which lies in their expression of African elements and displeasure with the status quo in the American society and their desire for integration. However, Langston Hughes is more conservative (and sometimes uses caustic language) and uses blues tradition in addressing the subject matter,while Yusef Komunyakaa, who is more versatile and universal in addressing the subject matter sees Africa as a source of inspiration. These writers accept Africa as their root which they cannot return physically. They also argue that America is equally their origin although they are not fully accepted, and express their desire for integration. They therefore illustrate how the Blacks, having found themselves in the web of dual identity crisis with its numerous challenges, plays significant roles towards resolving the issues of identity formation/crisis and cultural hybridisation that characterised the changing face of the history of U.S.A.




CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1.BACKGROUND

Africa is the root of the Blackman in the world. But capitalism and colonialism forcibly uprooted him and planted him on other continents outside Africa, where capitalist and colonialist tendencies were meted out in full force. According to Acholonu (1987:78) „the colonial experience is the common heritage of the Blackman, be he in Africa or in the African Diaspora.

Together, they share the black man‟s burden‟. In the course of his departure and crossing over to the New World, the Blackman carried along some parts of his material and immaterial culture. Consequently, the images of Africa sprouted up outside the African continent and many African writers in Diaspora have projected this.

Some early Eurocentric authors described Africa as primitive, barbaric and evil, and often equated her with darkness (Dark Continent), thereby regarding Africa to be „outside history, permanent and fixed and not in any way open to transformation or change‟ (Acholonu, op. cit.). Hall (1997) cited in Holloway (1990) presented the Eurocentric perception of the black slaves in two broad categories. First, the Blacks were projected as subservient creatures that were naturally created and fitted for slavery but were at the same time naturally lazy and indisposed to workaccording to their nature to profit their masters. The second was the belief that the Blacks were naturally primitive, simple and cultureless which made them innately uncivilised. Also,Cartey (1991) cited in Daniel (2008:9)observes that African images have often been portrayed in Spanish Literature in a stereotype way as “a figure to ridicule, a slow, dumb, witless, clod, a caliban. And „Negro‟ became an epithet of scorn, and „black‟ was synonymous with Negro”. These misrepresentations of the Blacks informed the widely held belief by some....

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