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Rereading and rewriting African women : Ama Ata Aidoo and Bessie Head

Chetin, Sara (1991) Rereading and rewriting African women : Ama Ata Aidoo and Bessie Head. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86088) (KAR id:86088)

Language: English

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This thesis explores female subjectivity in the works of two African women writers, Ama Ata Aidoo and Bessie Head. Reacting against distorted and limited androcentric assumptions about femaleness, these two writers have inscribed an African female-centred consciousness that contests women's marginality in African literature." Their thematic concerns, genre choice, and narrative strategies contribute to an understanding of the ways in which they use language to construct an historically specific female subjectivity. Questions such as audience and narrative distancing are considered in order to establish the problematic nature of interpreting culturally coded texts from a first world feminist perspective. The contextual framework identifies three areas of "male constructs" used by Achebe, Armah, Soyinka, Ngugi, Sembene and Farah. Specific texts that employ female characters for their mythical, allegorical or metaphorical potential are analysed to establish the ways male writers often deny the diversity and importance of female experience, seeking to reify it within fixed parameters. By contrast, Aidoo and Head create a variety of characters who voice individual and communal gender-specific conflicts produced by their sociohistorical realities. Their perceptions and sensibilities as African women are influenced by their different backgrounds and relationships to their communities; their narrative perspectives, which involve the use of oral storytelling techniques, dramatize the fluid and complex nature of the subjectivity they inscribe. Their use of language to establish a distance between themselves and their non-African readership is examined in order to illuminate the political difficulties inherent in deconstructing feminism within an international framework.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86088
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Literature
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature on music
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:28 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2022 12:04 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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