AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 7, Number 4. October 2023 Pp.77-90

Versatile Black Female Identity in Olympia Vernon’s Eden

The Department of English Language and Literature
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Political movements of racism and feminism during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries included monolithic approaches to identity that treated each category of race and gender exclusively. As a result, these movements fail to serve the black feminist liberation project because they do not treat blackness and gender as interlocking aspects that shape their experience. Therefore, this article aims to examine how black women’s intersectional position is represented in Eden(2003), a novel about the American South by Olympia Vernon, and how this examination enhances a powerful, versatile black female identity. Drawing on theories of intersectionality and gendered subjectivity as positionality, this study highlights how black Maddy Dangerfield, the protagonist, navigates women’s racial and gender suppression in the novel. In doing so, Maddy acquires consciousness that problematic racial and gender configurations throughout history do not necessarily hold deterministic powers over her subjectivity. In this sense, versatility as a form of radical black female subjectivity is an outcome of a simultaneous positioning as part of a historical context and detached from the determinism of that context. Maddy uses her positional perspective to create new meanings about blackness and femaleness. This process exposes how values attached to race and gender hold no deterministic power over a woman’s subjectivity. The significance of this study lies in shedding light on how versatile black female identity is part of a non-traditional way of resisting racial and gender domination that enacts engaging intersectionality and positionality.

Cite as:

Alfaqir, N.F. (2023).Versatile Black Female Identity in Olympia Vernon’s Eden Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 7 (4): 77-90.


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Najd Alfaqir is a PhD candidate at King Saud University, Saudi Arabia. She is a lecturer at Tabuk University, Saudi Arabia. She received a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Translation from Tabuk University, Saudi Arabia, and a master’s degree in Literature from American University, Washington D.C., USA. Her area of interests are African-American literature, black feminist criticism, and Postmodern theory. ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0009-0000-5289-2803