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Title page for ETD etd-07132016-120041

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Castro, Anne Margaret
Author's Email Address anne.margaret.castro@gmail.com
URN etd-07132016-120041
Title The Sacred Act of Reading: Spirituality, Performance, and Power in Afro-Diasporic Literature
Degree PhD
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Vera Kutzinski Committee Chair
Ifeoma Nwankwo Committee Co-Chair
Hortense Spillers Committee Member
Marzia Milazzo Committee Member
Victor Anderson Committee Member
  • Hemispheric Americas
  • African Diaspora
  • religion
  • performance
Date of Defense 2016-06-15
Availability unrestricted
“The Sacred Act of Reading: Spirituality, Performance, and Power in Afro-Diasporic Literature” studies depictions of religious phenomena in multi-genre texts from across the Americas. Literary engagement with the philosophies and practices of religious and spiritual traditions including Vodou, Kumina, Myal, and Protestant Christianity provide insight into the complex relationships of power that suffuse these literary works. By concentrating on these spiritual practices in the Americas, "The Sacred Act of Reading" affirms the intricate and complex interchange of Afro-diasporic persons, ideas, and discourse across the western hemisphere. The literature studied in this project use religious paradigms to illuminate the physical and metaphysical effects of historical and contemporary systems of socio-political power including slavery, colonialism, and capitalism. By incorporating Euro-centric and African-derived epistemologies throughout this project’s literary analyses, “The Sacred Act of Reading” finds that meaning is always intimately connected to assumptions about authority, recognized subjectivity, and the valuing of human experience. This project adopts an interpretive methodology of “performative textual hermeneutics,” which focuses on the multi-sensory experiences of textual interpretation and creation. Dedicated to “listening” to the wisdom of these literary works, this project finds that the actions and belief systems of readers and audiences are inevitably called into question when exploring the spiritual elements of power.
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