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Bridges to Memory

Postmemory in Contemporary Ethnic American Women's Fiction
Maria Rice Bellamy

BUY Cloth · 208 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813937953 · $59.50 · Dec 2015
BUY Paper · 208 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813937960 · $24.50 · Dec 2015
BUY Ebook · 208 pp. · ISBN 9780813937977 · $24.50 · Dec 2015

Tracing the development of a new genre in contemporary American literature that was engendered in the civil rights, feminist, and ethnic empowerment struggles of the 1960s and 1970s, Bridges to Memory shows how these movements authorized African American and ethnic American women writers to reimagine the traumatic histories that form their ancestral inheritance and define their contemporary identities. Drawing on the concept of postmemory—a paradigm developed to describe the relationship that children of Holocaust survivors have to their parents' traumatic experiences—Maria Bellamy examines narrative representations of this inherited form of trauma in the work of contemporary African American and ethnic American women writers.

Focusing on Gayl Jones's Corregidora, Octavia Butler's Kindred, Phyllis Alesia Perry's Stigmata, Cristina García's Dreaming in Cuban, Nora Okja Keller's Comfort Woman, and Edwidge Danticat's The Dew Breaker, Bellamy shows how cultural context determines the ways in which traumatic history is remembered and transmitted to future generations. Taken together, these narratives of postmemory manifest the haunting presence of the past in the present and constitute an archive of textual witness and global relevance that builds cross-cultural understanding and ethical engagement with the suffering of others.


Bridges to Memory claims ethnic American women’s writing as a space of trauma, memory, and postmemory. Shaped by the inheritance of past traumas of slavery and immigration, these powerful texts, discussed here with sensitivity and care, point us back to the legacies of violence and forward to a future that can practice recognition and imagine repair.

Marianne Hirsch, Columbia University, author of The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture after the Holocaust

Bridges to Memory is one of the extraordinary literary studies that advances our thoughts--and creative energies--in many fields of inquiry and imagination.

Robert B. Stepto, Yale University, author of A Home Elsewhere: Reading African American Classics in the Age of Obama

Through her feminist application of postmemory to contemporary ethnic American women’s fiction, Bellamy contributes a new and expanded application of Hirsch’s long-standing theoretical lens in order to analyze American literature of the past few decades.... [T]his study argues well for the inclusion of postmemory as a critical lens that can illuminate the fundamental role of trauma in contemporary ethnic American women’s fiction.


About the Author(s): 

Maria Rice Bellamy is Associate Professor of English at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York.

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