Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Studies


Joanne M Braxton


The purpose of this study is to explore the written representation of African-American spoken-voice storytelling in five fictional narratives published between the late nineteenth century and the late twentieth century: Charles W. Chesnutt's "Hot-Foot Hannibal," Zora Neale Hurston's their Eyes Were Watching God, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, Toni Cade Bambara's "My Man Bovanne," and John Edgar Wideman's "Doc's Story.".;Using Walter Ong's suggestion that the relationship between storyteller and inside-the-text listener mirrors the hoped-for relationship between writer and readership, this study examines the way these writers grappled with these factors as they generated their texts.;By paying attention to the teller/listener-writer/readership relationship, this study examines the process whereby the narrative "frame" that historically "contained" and "mediated" the black spoken voice (either through a listener/narrator or a third-person narrator) modulated and developed throughout the century, as the frame opens and closes.;The results of this study suggest that what Robert Stepto calls the African-American "discourse of distrust" was a factor from the earliest fictions and is still very much a factor today.



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