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Writing the Subject

"Bildung</I> and the African American Text

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Gunilla Theander Kester

This study explores the difference between the African American and the European Bildungsroman. Theoretical and textual, it focuses on issues of subjectivity, gender, and history in maturation stories by Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones, Charles Johnson, and Sherley Anne Williams. The comparative discussion of the African American tradition of self-representation, the European tradition of the Bildungsroman, and postmodernist notions of subjectivity elucidates fundamental traits of the African narrative of Bildung.