This study was conducted in order to examine the language choices made in Richard Wright's Black Power and process how language was used to identify Africans/Africa as the Other and identify Richard Wright himself in the midst of such otherness. In the field of travel writing, this account, detailing time the travel and time spent in The Gold Coast in 1953 resides as one of the most significant works in the genre by one of the best known African-American writers of the 20th century. For this memoir, the overwhelming strength of some of the lexical choices made by Wright lends itself for a deeper interpretation of the objects being described along with finding one's own self. Using a Systemic Functional Linguistic approach within the area of Critical Discourse Analysis, I closely examined the text for applicable terms which would provide insight into both the Other and the self detailed in the text. Terms such as distance, primitive, strange, and morality, along with descriptions of African bodies contributed to the projected image of the Other. To identify the self, heritage and descent were examined along with conversations Wright had with locals and terms used to show confusion with one's surroundings. From the excerpts gathered, it became clear that Wright was extremely judgmental and critical of both Africa and the Africans he came across, so much so that they were positioned very differently than Wright himself, despite common ancestral ties. At the same time, Wright attempted to better define a major marker of his own personal identity in the land of a problematic identifying term, the African in African-American. The findings shed light on a complex issue among American members of the African diaspora in attempts to assess the role of Africa and its people for those who can trace their lineage back to the continent, yet don't have direct contact and access to the culture, and are commonly identified by the Africanness in their bloodline.
Applied Linguistics Department
MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Committee Member 1
Reem Bassiouney, Atta Gebril
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(2017).Positioning of the Other and identity of the self revealed in Richard Wrightâ€™s Black Power: A critical discourse analysis [Master’s thesis, the American University in Cairo]. AUC Knowledge Fountain.
Francesco, Nicholas. Positioning of the Other and identity of the self revealed in Richard Wrightâ€™s Black Power: A critical discourse analysis. 2017. American University in Cairo, Master's thesis. AUC Knowledge Fountain.