Title

Ourika and Sibila of the Andes: two Nineteenth Century Black Female Protagonists

Titles of the Individual Presentations in a Panel

Ourika and Sibila of the Andes: two Nineteenth Century Black Female Protagonists (Nydia Jeffers)

Subject Area

Afro-Hispanic Studies

Abstract

It is very rare to find a Black female voice represented in nineteenth century fiction in the first person. Black protagonists Ourika and Sibila contribute to Afro-Romance literature because they tell a common story of suffering rejection for marriage and motherhood in early colonial France and colonial Venezuela, respectively. The adopted daughter from Senegal, Ourika, is the first Black female protagonist in Europe in the French novella Ourika (1823) by Duchess Claire Duras (1777-1828). The domestic slave Sibila is the first Black female protagonist in Latin America in the short story “La Sibila de los Andes” (1840) by politician Fermín Toro (1807-1865).

These two narratives are exceptions within the French and the Venezuelan literature of the XIXth century because the protagonists are Black and virgin until death, as opposed to the more studied type of the “tragic Mulatta”, who is either a victim of rape, as in Félix Tanco y Bosmeniel’s “Petrona y Rosalía” (1837), or a seductress, as in Cirilo Villaverde’s Cecilia Valdés (1882). Ourika and Sibila provide a voice to the Black victims of a triple oppression of race, class and gender in the XIXth century. The paper will compare the French and the Venezuelan stories following the lead of the Feminist concept of “trauma” by Julia Kristeva and the Postcolonial Cultural concept of "Caliban" by Roberto Fernández Retamar.

Brief Bio Note

Nydia Rosanna Jeffers taught Spanish courses at Georgetown University, the University of Nebraska and community colleges until her tenure-track position now at Henderson State University. Her dissertation, article publications and conference presentations are about the black protagonist in poetry and narratives in Spanish and Spanish-American Literature.

Keywords

Venezuela Literature, French Literature, Black Female Protagonists, Nineteenth Century Narratives, Race, Class, Gender

Location

Room 210

Presentation Year

April 2018

Start Date

4-6-2018 4:05 PM

Embargo

10-22-2017

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Apr 6th, 4:05 PM

Ourika and Sibila of the Andes: two Nineteenth Century Black Female Protagonists

Room 210

It is very rare to find a Black female voice represented in nineteenth century fiction in the first person. Black protagonists Ourika and Sibila contribute to Afro-Romance literature because they tell a common story of suffering rejection for marriage and motherhood in early colonial France and colonial Venezuela, respectively. The adopted daughter from Senegal, Ourika, is the first Black female protagonist in Europe in the French novella Ourika (1823) by Duchess Claire Duras (1777-1828). The domestic slave Sibila is the first Black female protagonist in Latin America in the short story “La Sibila de los Andes” (1840) by politician Fermín Toro (1807-1865).

These two narratives are exceptions within the French and the Venezuelan literature of the XIXth century because the protagonists are Black and virgin until death, as opposed to the more studied type of the “tragic Mulatta”, who is either a victim of rape, as in Félix Tanco y Bosmeniel’s “Petrona y Rosalía” (1837), or a seductress, as in Cirilo Villaverde’s Cecilia Valdés (1882). Ourika and Sibila provide a voice to the Black victims of a triple oppression of race, class and gender in the XIXth century. The paper will compare the French and the Venezuelan stories following the lead of the Feminist concept of “trauma” by Julia Kristeva and the Postcolonial Cultural concept of "Caliban" by Roberto Fernández Retamar.