New Kids on The Block: Children as Political Subjects in Gorilla, My Love


  • Cristina Di Maio



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.

Author Biography

Cristina Di Maio

Cristina Di Maio is a PhD candidate in “Linguistic, Philological, and Literary Studies” at the University of Macerata. She was awarded several fellowships and competitive awards, among which the AISNA “Agostino Lombardo” prize for best Italian thesis in American Studies in 2011 and the EAAS Transatlantic Grant in 2019. She has been working as a Teaching Assistant in American Literature at the University of Turin since 2018; her academic interests include Play Theory, Modern and Contemporary American Literature, Feminist Theory, Italian/American Literature. 


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