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“I don’t need no lazy coon lak you nohow”: Women's Narrative, Space, and Empowerment in Hurston’s Woofing

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2017, 30(2), pp.169-192
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Jungman Park 1

1한국외국어대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960), an African-American female writer and anthropologist in the Harlem Renaissance era, had a great interest in the verbal patterns of Southern blacks. Among the black language patterns collected and recorded during her field trips for anthology projects is the verbal contention style called ‘woofing,’ which best expresses the African-American folks’ volubility and sense of humor. In Huston’s literature the woofing frequently happens in verbal contest between black men and women, and mostly employed as a narrative strategy to empower women in the course of the sex battle. It mostly turns out that black women, the physical and social weak in the patriarchal culture of black society, are endowed with the verbal ability and consequently take the lead in most of the verbal contention situations. Hurston’s one-act play Woofing (1931), in particular, highlights the African-American folks’ verbal aspects of woofing as what Cheryl A. Wall calls the means by which women gain access to power. This study examines the verbal contention pattern of African-American folks in the play, especially focusing on the situation of sexual confrontation between black men and women. Furthermore, this study extends to discussion on related implications found in the play such as women's narrative, women’s space and the empowerment of women.

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