New Kids on The Block: Children as Political Subjects in Gorilla, My Love
Keywords:African American literature, children, Butler, Signifying, tomboy
This article examines the depiction of children and adolescents in Toni Cade Bambara’s Gorilla, My Love, exploring the ways in which their performance characterizes them as potential agents of change within and outside the narrative. I argue that Bambara challenges the traditional portrayal of children as victimized and unaware of the social dynamics at play in the space they inhabit, rather identifying them as proto-political subjects who convey her own militant views. My analysis will be carried out taking into account specific aspects of the children’s performance, such as the use of vernacular, the figure of the ‘tomboy’ and creativity as a revolutionary practice. These elements will also be considered in light of Bambara’s involvement in the black liberation and women’s movements: the children protagonists in the stories will be investigated as heirs of Bambara’s radical message.
Adkins, Lisa, and Beverly Skeggs, edited by. Feminism after Bourdieu. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004.
Bambara, Toni Cade. Gorilla, My Love. 1972. New York: Vintage Books, 2011.
---, edited by. The Black Woman. An Anthology. 1970. New York: Washington Square Press, 2005.
Bambara, Toni Cade and Lewis Thabiti, edited by. Conversations with Toni Cade Bambara. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2012.
Bourdieu, Pierre. Practical Reason. On the Theory of Action. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998.
Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter. On the Discursive Limits of “Sex”. 1993. New York: Routledge, 2011.
---. Excitable Speech. A Politics of the Performative. New York: Routledge, 1997.
---. “Performativity’s Social Magic.” Bourdieu. A Critical Reader. Edited by Richard Shusterman. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1999.
Butler-Evans, Elliott. Race, gender, and desire: narrative strategies in the fiction of Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989.
Comfort, Mary. “Liberating Figures in Toni Cade Bambara’s Gorilla, My Love.” Studies in American Humor 3. 5 (1998): 76-96.
Croce, Mariano. “The Levels of Critique. Pierre Bourdieu and the Political Potential of Social Theory” Sociologica 13.2 (2019): 23-35.
Gates, Henry Louis Jr., The Signifying Monkey. A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.
Halberstam, Judith. Female Masculinity. Durham: Duke University Press, 1998.
Heller, Janet Ruth. “Toni Cade Bambara's Use of African American Vernacular English in ‘The Lesson.’” Style 37.3 (2003): 279-293.
Holmes, Linda Janet and Cheryl A. Wall, edited by. Savoring the Salt. The Legacy of Toni Cade Bambara. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008.
Jenkins, Henry, edited by. The Children’s Culture Reader. New York: New York University Press, 1997.
Jenkins, Richard. “Pierre Bourdieu and the Reproduction of Determinism.” Sociology 16.2, (1982): 270–281.
Lipsitz, George. How Racism Takes Place. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2011.
Muther, Elizabeth. “Bambara's Feisty Girls: Resistance Narratives in Gorilla, My Love.” African American Review 36.3 (2002): 447-459.
Tate, Claudia, edited by. Black Women Writers at Work. New York: Continuum, 1983.
Wright, Katy M. “The Role of Dialect Representation in Speaking from the Margins: ‘The Lesson’ of Toni Cade Bambara.” Style 42.1 (2008): 73-83.
Yang, Yang. “Bourdieu, Practice and Change: Beyond the criticism of determinism.” Educational Philosophy & Theory 46.14 (2014): 1522-1540.
LicenseIperstoria is an Open Access journal.
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 BY-NC License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of their work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal. We require authors to inform us of any instances of re-publication.