The Manifestations of Nationalism in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom


  • Abdol Hossein Joodaki Faculty of Letters and Humanities University of Lorestan, Iran


Black nationalism, Foucauldian viewpoints, Power Relation, Resistance


August Wilson is without question one of the major source of vitality of Black African American culture in literature. As a member of the Black aesthetic movement of the 1960s and a founder of Black Horizons Theater, his works contribute mainly to Black nationalism through his depiction of the Black characters. He highlights the superior/inferior relation between the blacks and the whites in American society. With a focus on resistance and power relation, this study attempts to investigate the theme of nationalism in the Black characters. The study will utilize the Marxist and Foucauldian viewpoints on the relation between whites and blacks to display examples of August Wilson’s and his characters’ senses of nationalism. He reveals this nationalistic tendency through his analytical concentration on the blues music as a representative of Black nationalism and its resistance to white domination in the power relation. By choosing the name of his first character, Ma Rainey, delaying her entrance into the play, questioning the Christian God, and drawing attentions to African beliefs and rituals, the author shows that blacks can also project power in their dealings with white people. August Wilson undertakes a burden to breathe life into African American national elements through describing the characters and the sense of power that they exude.


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How to Cite

Joodaki, A. H. (2014). The Manifestations of Nationalism in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. AJELP: Asian Journal of English Language and Pedagogy, 2, 146–157. Retrieved from