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The Coupling Convention : Sex, Text, and Tradition in Black Women's Fiction - Ann duCille

The Coupling Convention

Sex, Text, and Tradition in Black Women's Fiction

Paperback Published: 25th November 1993
ISBN: 9780195085099
Number Of Pages: 216

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What does the tradition of marriage mean for people who have historically been deprived of its legal status? Generally thought of as a convention of the white middle class, the marriage plot has received little attention from critics of African-American literature. In this study, Ann duCille uses texts such as Nella Larsen's Quicksand (1928) and Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) to demonstrate that the African-American novel, like its European and Anglo-American counterparts, has developed around the marriage plot--what she calls "the coupling convention." Exploring the relationship between racial ideology and literary and social conventions, duCille uses the coupling convention to trace the historical development of the African-American women's novel. She demonstrates the ways in which black women appropriated this novelistic device as a means of expressing and reclaiming their own identity. More than just a study of the marriage tradition in black women's fiction, however, The Coupling Convention takes up and takes on many different meanings of tradition. It challenges the notion of a single black literary tradition, or of a single black feminist literary canon grounded in specifically black female language and experience, as it explores the ways in which white and black, male and female, mainstream and marginalized "traditions" and canons have influenced and cross-fertilized each other. Much more than a period study, The Coupling Convention spans the period from 1853 to 1948, addressing the vital questions of gender, subjectivity, race, and the canon that inform literary study today. In this original work, duCille offers a new paradigm for reading black women's fiction.

"DuCille has written an informative, perceptive book, which illuminates the developmenet of African American women's literature and extends the boundaries of critical theory and practice."--Choice "An excellent example of a small (but hopefully growing) tendency to reach out beyond the field of African American studies and engage in dialogue with American cultural and literary criticism and history."--Hazel Carby, Yale University "An important contribution to Black Feminist Literary Theory. It is also engaging, accessible, and rigorous. I think my students will learn a great deal from it."--Farah Jasmine Griffin, University of Pennsylvania "DuCille is wonderful here....A superb secondary text for upper-level undergrads."--Jan Loveland, Wayne State University "The Coupling Convention, Ann duCille's splendid contribution to Black feminist and literary analysis, is a critical achievement of the nineties....DuCille's work is marked by her willingness to ask hard and sometimes unpopular questions. She also achieves that elusive goal in scholarly writing: she is both sophisticated and clear, and often elegant and witty as well. The Coupling Convention builds on, differs with and is as important as earlier groundbreaking books like Barbara Christian's Black Women Novelists and Hazel Carby's Reconstructing Womanhood. It is among the best in the Black feminist critical tradition."--Women's Review of Books "This is a work that benefits not only from its author's liveliness of mind and scholarly commitment but also from years of teaching the texts she treats here....duCille's book joins a growing number of works that are stretching across established boundaries of both genre and discipline."--American Literature "[duCille's] text is at all times engaging and provocative....In duCille's work, we are challanged to view the tradition of Black women's novels as one which uses marriage, or `coupling,' as a literary tool of subversion and protest."--Callaloo "[duCille] puts forward vibrant new readings of more than a dozen novels....duCille is always careful to outline the critical heritage surrounding the novels and thereby allows her reader to proceed with an appropriate caveat."--American Studies "...a valuable contribution to African American scholarship....The Coupling Convention is a very useful book offering illuminating interpretations and reinterpretations of texts via a convention thought irrelevant to African American literature. The work's readability is refreshing and though duCille employs much literary, cultural, and social theory in her analysis, she does so in language that never obfuscates her assertions....The Coupling Convention identifies rich new avenues for literary exploration."--Journal of the History of Sexuality "DuCille has written an informative, perceptive book, which illuminates the developmenet of African American women's literature and extends the boundaries of critical theory and practice."--Choice "An excellent example of a small (but hopefully growing) tendency to reach out beyond the field of African American studies and engage in dialogue with American cultural and literary criticism and history."--Hazel Carby, Yale University "An important contribution to Black Feminist Literary Theory. It is also engaging, accessible, and rigorous. I think my students will learn a great deal from it."--Farah Jasmine Griffin, University of Pennsylvania "DuCille is wonderful here....A superb secondary text for upper-level undergrads."--Jan Loveland, Wayne State University "The Coupling Convention, Ann duCille's splendid contribution to Black feminist and literary analysis, is a critical achievement of the nineties....DuCille's work is marked by her willingness to ask hard and sometimes unpopular questions. She also achieves that elusive goal in scholarly writing: she is both sophisticated and clear, and often elegant and witty as well. The Coupling Convention builds on, differs with and is as important as earlier groundbreaking books like Barbara Christian's Black Women Novelists and Hazel Carby's Reconstructing Womanhood. It is among the best in the Black feminist critical tradition."--Women's Review of Books "This is a work that benefits not only from its author's liveliness of mind and scholarly commitment but also from years of teaching the texts she treats here....duCille's book joins a growing number of works that are stretching across established boundaries of both genre and discipline."--American Literature "[duCille's] text is at all times engaging and provocative....In duCille's work, we are challanged to view the tradition of Black women's novels as one which uses marriage, or `coupling,' as a literary tool of subversion and protest."--Callaloo "[duCille] puts forward vibrant new readings of more than a dozen novels....duCille is always careful to outline the critical heritage surrounding the novels and thereby allows her reader to proceed with an appropriate caveat."--American Studies "...a valuable contribution to African American scholarship....The Coupling Convention is a very useful book offering illuminating interpretations and reinterpretations of texts via a convention thought irrelevant to African American literature. The work's readability is refreshing and though duCille employs much literary, cultural, and social theory in her analysis, she does so in language that never obfuscates her assertions....The Coupling Convention identifies rich new avenues for literary exploration."--Journal of the History of Sexuality "...an eminently readable text that both reflects and compels thoughtful scholarship. DuCille's final words express the hope that her study will "contribute to a reconsideration of the African American novel and its traditions" (p.148). It does."--Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature

Introduction: Conventional Criticism and Unconventional Black Literaturep. 3
The Coupling Convention: Novel Views of Love and Marriagep. 13
Literary Passionlessness and the Black Woman Question in the 1890sp. 30
Women, Men, and Marriage in the Ideal Estatep. 48
Blues Notes on Black Sexuality: Sex and the Texts of the Twenties and Thirtiesp. 66
The Bourgeois, Wedding Bell Blues of Jessie Fauset and Nella Larsenp. 86
Stoning the Romance: Passion, Patriarchy, and the Modern Marriage Plotp. 110
Conclusion: Marriage, Tradition, and the Individualized Talentp. 143
Notesp. 149
Bibliographyp. 173
Indexp. 195
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195085099
ISBN-10: 0195085094
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 216
Published: 25th November 1993
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.39  x 1.25
Weight (kg): 0.31