Black Female Authors' Intersectional Discourse in 21st-Century World Literature: Production, (Re)Presentation and the Readership

Sarah Agath

Zadie Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Bernadine Evaristo are internationally acclaimed, female authors of colour who appear in lifestyle magazines and can be followed on Twitter. They are public figures in a literary industry reshaped by digitalization, have roots in former British colonies and center their works and media discourse on hybridity, racism and discrimination.

The intriguing questions to examine are which roles – from the point of view of literary and media sociology – have these authors assumed and to which aims do they utilize these roles? Within the 21st-century media landscape, how does the readership respond to their presentation and agenda?

This doctoral project therefore investigates these authors’ (re)presentation in the current literary landscape, such as their online media presence (newspapers, social media, etc.) and issues addressed and discussed in their literary works. Furthermore, the readership’s response to the examined authors and their works is investigated through computational language analysis of reader comments on Goodreads and Amazon.

In their strong media presence, these authors emphasize their persona as non-white women and frequently debate feminist issues. Supported by the phenomenon of ‘popular feminism’, they have created a pathway to carry out intersectional social criticism, illustrating the realities of the – often multiply – marginalized (due to race, class, gender, etc.) to large audiences, discussing complex entanglements of inequalities, discrimination, and history (colonialism, slavery) in both their texts and paratext. Thus, they have created a 21st-century version of ‘writing back’, contributing to making intersectional criticism an accessible, widely discussed topic outside of its ‘natural habitat’, academia.

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