Travel Narratives of Audre Lorde and the 20th-Century African American Writing of Mobility

Яковенко, Ірина Василівна (2020) Travel Narratives of Audre Lorde and the 20th-Century African American Writing of Mobility Кременецькі компаративні студії, 10. pp. 160-171. ISSN 2311-262Х

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Initiated by Briton Hammon’s «A Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings, and Surprising Deliverance of Britton Hammon, a Negro Man-Servant…» in the colonial period, travelogues of African American writers constitute a sizeable part of the American literary heritage. The ethnography and travel writing «Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica» by Zora Neale Hurston, «Black Power», «The Color Curtain» and «Pagan Spain» by Richard Wright, autobiographical travel essays of Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, and Audre Lorde, Maya Angelou’s novel «All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes» among others, stand out as emblematic writings of mobility in the 20th century. The paper addresses the travelogues of Audre Lorde «Notes from a Trip to Russia» and «Grenada Revisited: An Interim Report» from the book of essays «Sister Outsider», and analyzes the representations of the Soviet Union and Grenada which the African American writer and activist visited in the 1970 – 1980s to later depict them in her travel writings. The author of the article gives an overview of the developments of travel narratives in African American literature from the colonial period to the contemporary era, focusing on the history of Black writers’ visits to the USSR. It is argued that Soviet ideological authorities instrumentalized the connections with the African American cultural representatives and their visits to the USSR with the intent to use them as subjects of their propaganda, and as an object lesson of the racial minority oppression in bourgeois society. In the research paper, Audre Lorde’s critical perspective of the Soviet life is explored. With daring honesty Audre Lorde writes about social and political aspects of the life in the USSR in the 1970-s, and touches upon gender norms and social roles of women in the Soviet Russia and Uzbekistan, racial and ethnic relations, working conditions in urban and rural environments, crime, medical care and education. The facets of the social fabric in the USSR, which Audre Lorde praises, are absence of color line, accessibility of education and medical care, promotion of love of books and reading. Contrariwise, the African American writer critically perceives poor housing, propaganda and «double messages» of the Communist elite, thus coming to the conclusion that the Soviet Union is neither a free society nor a classless one. In «Grenada Revisited: An Interim Report», Audre Lorde’s personal connection to the land becomes evident. The writer in detail describes the contemporaneous socio-economic and political situation in Grenada, advocating the revolutionary changes in the country. It is argued that Lorde’s travel writing is characterized by the weak ethnographic component and by the resilient engagement with social and political issues.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: travelogue; African American literature; Audre Lorde; «Notes from a Trip to Russia»; «Grenada Revisited: An Interim Report».
Subjects: Статті у наукометричних базах > Index Copernicus
Divisions: Це архівні підрозділи > Кафедра англійської філології та перекладу
Depositing User: Ірина Василівна Яковенко
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2021 07:28
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2021 07:28

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