"Break Fences; Build a Garden" – August Wilson's Spatial Writing of Black Female in Fences Writing Back to Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Li Nan


Although usually read as a work to reflect the whole community of African Americans’ living experience and oppression, Fences written in 1987 by August Wilson as one of his "Pittsburgh Circle" series contains a deeper revelation for black women, the peripheral group within the already marginalized ethnical minority. On that ground, Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God , the first classic among black feminist novels shall be recalled for discussion since the two female protagonists enable a intertextual reading of spaces in terms of black female subjectivity construction in a hostile world treating them as the double Other with their despised gender and race. In this paper, the author adopts a perspective of space studies from Michel Foucault, Edward Soja and bell hooks to dig out the relationship between the process of space expansion and black women’s construction of subjectivity to prove that Rose and Jenny as the representative figures of black women, their status of being an Other's other would not change before they actively break free. And through the analysis of their constructing process, the author proves that a powerful, flexible and inclusive "Thirdplace" or "heterotopia" represented by the image of garden for them serves the crucial role for the marginalized group to stand down to earth. Thereupon, powerful discourses from a black woman get generated and are able to spread afar quite influentially through sisterhood to their community or next generation.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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(Re)Mapping Gender