Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Carolyn Jones Medine


Mediating Structures in African-American literature are essential in the formation of identity in the lives of the characters. Contemporary theory has moved into a deeper layer of hermeneutics beyond self/other dichotomies to look at the space between binary opposites. Therefore, modern theorists look at sites of play, of exchange, and of transformation. The porch is such a space. A mediating structure is a space that allows the various characters to develop and define themselves. Because of African-Americans, lack of freedom, it was important for them to find a space in which they were able to move and express their ideas, emotions, artistic ability, and thoughts. These spaces were both theoretical and literal. Spaces like gardens, and new theories like womanism, and performative actions like music, as well as countless others helped and help African-Americans to define themselves. The porch in African-American women's literature becomes a space for transformation and self-definition. On the porch, Denver in Toni Morrison's Beloved, Celie in Alice Walker's The Color Purple, and Janie in Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God define, redefine, and narrate themselves.