Degree awarded: M.A. Literature. American University
In this paper I examine the role of collective memory in supporting and even revolutionizing African American literary aesthetics. I find that the emerging discourse on post-black aesthetics imposes limits on the power of collective memory and its importance to Signifying, which Henry Louis Gates Jr. calls the "trope of tropes" African American literature and criticism. These limitations actually do more to impede the progress and potential of a black literary aesthetic than they do to encourage any real growth or advancement. I discuss, Toni Morrison's Beloved, Sapphire's Push, Percival Everett's Erasure, and Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo, to illustrate the consequences and limitations of post-blackness and the vitality and creative potential of collective memory.