Date of Award

Fall 12-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Elizabeth Steeby

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Lewis

Third Advisor

Jacinta Saffold


Representations of natural disasters in Black Southern literature identify social location as the greatest indicator of risk vulnerability. Moreover, they can expose the precarious subjectivity of the Black female reproductive body, as addressed through characters Lulu in Richard Wright’s “Down by the Riverside,” Janie in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Jesmyn Ward’s Esch in Salvage the Bones. Together, these female characters share a legacy of social marginalization and Black female resistance that is (re)shaped through their experiences with ecological catastrophe. This thesis considers these three texts together as an ongoing testimony and as a means to bear witness to a socio-historical record of disaster oppression and Black female resistance.


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