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The burden of the body : selfhood and representation in the works of Dionne Brand

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The burden of the body : selfhood and representation in the works of Dionne Brand

Rifkind, Candida (1997) The burden of the body : selfhood and representation in the works of Dionne Brand. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The works of Dionne Brand constitute an ongoing exploration of the formation and representation of the self. In the poems of No Language is Neutral (1990) and Land to Light On (1997), the short stories of Sans Souci (1989), and the novel In Another Place, Not Here (1996), Brand develops a notion of subjectivity in which the interior self strives for full expression through the performances of its body. The self's ability to determine its corporeal performances, however, is regulated by social forces which 'read' bodies according to hierarchies of difference. This circumscription of performativity is particularly acute for Brand's Black female characters, whose bodies are regulated within the social sphere according to hierarchies of gender, race, class, and sexuality. Because their bodies are perceived as different and therefore 'other,' Brand's characters cannot simply assume performative agency, but rather must struggle to articulate their selfhood through bodily performances which evade dominant regulations. Ironically, the body is at once the site of regulation and of resistance. Brand's works locate subjectivity within the corporeal to emphasize that desires--whether for a whole self, for an other, for a home, or for full expression--transgress dominant regulations of their bodies. This study approaches the texts thematically to assert that Brand's representation of Black female subjectivity is a critique of the discursive limitations which regulate the Black female body, as well as a representation of the agency possible through various alternative bodily performances.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > English
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Rifkind, Candida
Pagination:v, 112 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (M.A.)
Program:English
Date:1997
Thesis Supervisor(s):Kortenaar, Neil Ten
ID Code:387
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:11
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:14
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