IJLLL 2015 Vol.1(3): 212-217 ISSN: 2382-6282
DOI: 10.18178/IJLLL.2015.1.3.41

A New Historicist Reading of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Mahdi Sepehrmanesh
Abstract—The interaction of history and literature has been always an important subject among literary scholars. One of the newest approaches in the field of literary criticism which emerged about three decades ago is New Historicism. In this almost new way of analysis, not only history affects literature, but also literature could be effective in understanding history and thus the relationship between history and literature is reciprocal. The present paper is an attempt to find traces of new historicism in August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom by the help of the theories and ideas given by new historicist thinkers such as Stephen Greenblatt, and Michael Foucault. To achieve this end, a methodical investigation of the plays through the lens of new historicism has been conducted. As for the Foucauldian basis of new historicism, his ideas about distribution of power by a certain medium which he calls discourse in a culture is discussed in a way that power circulates knowledge in a specific context and this facts helps to prove the reciprocity of the relation between history and literature. It is shown that the margins of the society, the blacks, have their own discourse as the whites do. There are subversive voices, who resist the dominant culture through which they open a space for the other black men to show up themselves. Power as a social energy does not just belong to the whites who have the imposing discourse but the blacks have their own power too, though being at the margins, through which they resist the governing culture.

Index Terms—Discourse, power, resistance, subversive voice.

Mahdi Sepehrmanesh is with National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan (e-mail: mehdi.sepehr330@gmail.com).

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Cite:Mahdi Sepehrmanesh, "A New Historicist Reading of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," International Journal of Languages, Literature and Linguistics vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 212-217, 2015.

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