Because each had discovered years before that they were neither white nor
male, and that all freedom and triumph was forbidden to them, they had
set about creating something else to be.-Toni Morrison, Sula
For ourselves, and for humanity ... we must turn over a new leaf, we
must work out new concepts, and try to set afoot a new [wo]man.-Frantz
Fanon, The Wretched
In this work I have attempted to situate black female personae in
the thick of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century literary, scien-
tific, and cultural imagination. In conclusion I would like to shift the
focus to black women's efforts, particularly those by Francophone
Caribbean women, in the words of bell hooks, "to make the oppo-
sitional space where [their] sexuality can be named and represented,
where [they] are sexual subjects-no longer bound and trapped."
While hooks's discussion refers specifically to Anglophone black
feminist cinematic productions of the twentieth century, this pri-
marily literary study will take black women's writerly endeavors,
particularly the writings of Haitian Marie Chauvet and Guadelou-
pean/Senegalese Myriam Warner-Vieyra as its points of departure.
In effect, writing represents a critical oppositional space where black
women have been able to redefine, indeed reinvent, themselves. The
act ofwriting allows for a return to the self, an exploration ofthe self.
Through "writing," according to French feminist antitheory theo-
rist Helene Cixous, "women will return to the bodies which have
been more than confiscated from [them]."
The unearthing of writings by nineteenth-century Francophone