Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature (Interdepartmental Program)

First Advisor

Patrick McGee


This study investigates the use and implications of the trope of marronage, the African-American practice of self-emancipation to forge alternative New World communities, in selected novels by Black women writers of North America and the Anglophone and Francophone Caribbean. It draws on theories of liminality to posit a theory of liberatory practice that deconstructs hegemonic narratives, both personal and historical. Postmodern approaches are deferred in favor of locating these texts and their concerns as deriving from the epistemological consequences of modernity. Cross-cultural Black women's texts were chosen to illuminate the recognition of shared subjugations across national and linguistic borders, as well as comparable resistant strategies. The reclamation of the submerged history of marronage across these cultural borders offers the possibility for re-centering the African Diasporic subject in the Americas, enabling the subject and her community's participation in resistance and the creation of alternative American ontologies. Close readings of Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Chosen Place, The Timeless People by Paule Marshall, and Heremakhonon by Maryse Conde demonstrate the transition of marronage from historical and geographical territorial identity to submerged but reclaimable psychological rite of passage. The study concludes that reading African Diasporic fictions through the lens of marronage enables the cultural work of identity and community-building, critique, and affirmation.