African Image In African American Literature: A Case Study Of Langston Hughes’ The Panther And The Lash: Poems Of Our Time And Yusef Komunyakaa’s Pleasure Dome: New And Collected Poems

Project and Seminar Material for English Language

African Image In African American Literature: A Case Study Of Langston Hughes’ The Panther And The Lash: Poems Of Our Time And Yusef Komunyakaa’s Pleasure Dome: New And Collected Poems


Abstract


This thesis is concerned with the how image of Africa is presented in African American literature using Langston Hughes‟ The Panther and the Lash: Poems of our Time (1964) and Yusef Komunyakaa‟s Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems (2001). The study employsNew Historicism as an analytical tool to explore how the African American writers use poetry as a mouthpiece to assert their African origin at a period when it was widely believed by the Eurocentric critics that African Americans have totally lost Africanness. It also shows how the fusion of two distinct cultures has led to the emergence of a hybrid culture that has produced a great art, and concludes that societies should focus more on what unites them than what divides them in order to foist a more united and prosperous society.

African image in the context of this research centres on the issues of slavery, racism, identity formation, disenchantment, struggle for freedom and integration. The presence of African image in the African American literary creation is anindication of their consciousness of Africa as their ancestry and their acceptance of dual heritage in U.S.A. The study is not concerned with a comparative analysis despite using two poets from two different literary eras; it rather focuses on the connection between the two poetic eras which lies in their expression of African elements and displeasure with the status quo in the American society and their desire for integration.

However, Langston Hughes is more conservative (and sometimes uses caustic language) and uses blues tradition in addressing the subject matter,while Yusef Komunyakaa, who is more versatile and universal in addressing the subject matter sees Africa as a source of inspiration. These writers accept Africa as their root which they cannot return physically. They also argue that America is equally their origin although they are not fully accepted, and express their desire for integration. They therefore illustrate how the Blacks, having found themselves in the web of dual identity crisis with its numerous challenges, plays significant roles towards resolving the issues of identity formation/crisis and cultural hybridisation that characterised the changing face of the history of U.S.A.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1.Background Of The Study

Africa is the root of the Blackman in the world. But capitalism and colonialism forcibly uprooted him and planted him on other continents outside Africa, where capitalist and colonialist tendencies were meted out in full force. According to Acholonu (1987:78) „the colonial experience is the common heritage of the Blackman, be he in Africa or in the African Diaspora.

Together, they share the black man‟s burden‟. In the course of his departure and crossing over to the New World, the Blackman carried along some parts of his material and immaterial culture. Consequently, the images of Africa sprouted up outside the African continent and many African writers in Diaspora have projected this.


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