Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



This comparative study asserts the centrality of spirituality to literature that explores life in the African Diaspora. Specifically, it emphasizes the importance of spirituality both to the authors and to the lives of their characters in the novels Victoire, les saveurs et les mots (2006) by the Guadeloupian author Maryse Condé, Camwood at Crossroads (2007) by Nigerian author Femi Euba, and El color del verano (1991) by Cuban author Reinaldo Arenas. A close reading of the three novels shows that they are representative of autohistoría literary works, which represent the spirituality of the writer, as well as the people written about. Importantly, this comparative study identifies narrative strategies and techniques in African Diasporic writing, such as the expression of collective memory, satire, and choteo, as modes of analysis, recognition, and resistance to oppression. Each novel is, therefore, an example of subaltern self-representation that resists cultural hegemony and gives voice to groups that have been historically silenced. Each author’s spirituality informs the will to understand, to redefine, and to transform oppressive social relations in societies inhabited by the characters. Uniquely, this comparative study avoids universalizing characters experiences with oppression and demonstrates that many forms of oppression are unique to specific groups of people and may not be experienced universally. The implication of this finding is that advocates of human liberation must listen, understand, and dialogue across groups to achieve their goals.



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Committee Chair

Otero, Solimar