Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Gary Totten

Second Committee Member

Briana Whiteside

Third Committee Member

John Hay

Fourth Committee Member

Tyler Parry

Number of Pages



Black women’s voices in literature and television have been marginalized for decades. Whether they are being portrayed as indentured servants or as rambunctious and disorderly beings, the images of Black women are not often positive. Therefore, many Black women writers actively work to alter these demoralizing narratives. At the end of the Black Arts Movement, Black women writers such as Gayl Jones, Alice Walker, and J. California Cooper began to receive more recognition for their efforts to dismantle the methods of silencing and erasure that many Black women have been enduring, such as generational traumas, molestation, and sexual/domestic abuse. With the assistance of critics such as Audre Lorde, bell hooks, and Cathy Caruth, I analyze how Black women writers utilize these negative narratives to highlight forms of resistance that help to form methods of healing from various traumatic experiences. Additionally, I argue that the efforts of Jones, Walker, and Cooper encourages emerging Black women writers such as Issa Rae to challenge the continued marginalization of Black women in literature and television. With the support of contemporary critics such as Roxane Gay and Tressie McMillan Cottom, I prove that Issa Rae utilizes a similar formula to Jones, Walker, and Cooper in that she presents many negative stereotypes of Black women and uses them to challenge viewers to alter their perception and treatment of Black women in the United States. By using Black women writers from 1975 in conjunction with Issa Rae – who first premiered Insecure in 2016 – I argue that trauma works to destroy Black women from the inside out. However, the healing that these writers encourage in their works deliberately enhances the livelihood and overall well-being of Black women – which, in turn, directly impacts the betterment of many Black communities.


Black women writers; Black women; Trauma; Personal agency


American Literature

File Format


File Size

754 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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