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Gendered Masks of Liminality and Race

Black Female Trickster’s Subversion of Hegemonic Discourse in African American Women Literature

Yomna Saber

Shape shifters, purveyors of chaos, rules’ breakers, crude creatures and absurd figures, tricksters can be traced as recurrently transgressive figures that do not wither away with time. Tricksters rove and ramble in the pages of literature; the canon is replete with tricksters who throw dust in the eyes of their dupes and end up victoriously. But what if the trickster is African American? And a female? And an African American female? This book limits the focus to this figure as delineated in the writings of: Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde and Toni Morrison. The black female trickster’s battles provoke unique strategies of tricksterism. Her liminal positionality is distinguished for she occupies myriad peripheries in terms of class, race and gender; in addition to her social oppressions, and carrying within a legacy of African spirituality and an excruciating history of slavery. The black female trickster subverts hegemonic discourse individualistically; through tricks, she emerges as a victim who refuses victimization, disturbs the status quo and challenges many conventions.

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Conclusion. Pay No Attention to the "Woman" behind the Curtain: Subverting Hegemonic Discourses


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Pay No Attention to the Woman behind the Curtain: Subverting Hegemonic Discourses

“The tricks of women aren’t to be learned. You go back home and marry and be like everybody else, because not even the devil had learned the tricks of women.” Albania Cooper.

In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, as Dorothy, Lion, the Scarecrow and Tin Man are waiting to unmask the great wizard who will realize their dreams for them, they are told to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. However, when the dog Toto pulls that curtain, they see that the wizard is an ordinary man only working on machines and levers. His tricks are not performed by magic as everyone believed, but he knows how to get the job done through other means as he fools everybody. The trick is a relatively safe way to get what one wants without a direct insolence. But can anyone who performs tricks be considered as a trickster? Definitely not. Originally, tricksters emerged as mythical figures famous for their mischievous shenanigans, shrewd jokes, and rapid transfigurations. Despite their ostensible stupidity, they could always achieve what others were incapable of realizing with the utmost wit. Tricksters lurk in the margins; everything is planned and nothing is left to chance in their ploy of tricks, where the trick is always capricious and unpredictable. They flout discursive classification and remain as gatekeepers between the landscapes of good and evil,...

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