Date of Award

12-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Susan M. Comfort, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Veronica Watson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Lingyan Yang, Ph.D.

Abstract

This dissertation examines two of the most salient characteristics of the Anglophone Caribbean writer Michelle Cliff’s work: one, her analysis of a hegemonic colonial system and, two, her exploration of possibilities for resistance. Regarding the first, I argue that Cliff’s work should be recognized as a significant postcolonial intersectional feminist project that analyzes the traumas of gender and race, especially whiteness, as manifestations of a colonial/gender modern system in the Caribbean. As such, Cliff’s analysis of the impacts of this system’s devastations allows readers to enter the worlds of those whose lives have been, and continue to be, deeply affected by its hegemonic impositions. On the second point, I suggest that Cliff’s works offer valuable strategies for resistance and recovery from these traumas at the different levels of history, bodies, and communities.

Throughout the chapters, I will look at these issues through the lens of the theoretical framework outlined in the introduction. I put forward a combination of three theoretical frameworks in order to develop an argument for my own version of postcolonial feminist theory, one that calls for historicizing the complexities of Caribbean societies, and for examining the effects of several oppressive hierarchies I see working simultaneously as sources of individual and collective traumas. For that reason, I develop a combined framework of trauma studies, critical whiteness studies, and postcolonial intersectional feminism, in order to look carefully at the significance of Cliff´s works. This proposal intends to make an intervention in postcolonial feminism, and at the same time, facilitate a multilayered analysis of Michelle Cliff’s novels by opening up the possibility to examine more effectively how she explores and represents the damaging consequences of the interlocking hegemonic categories of the colonial system in the lives of women belonging to non-dominant groups.

Available for download on Thursday, February 06, 2020

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