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Supernatural Forces

Belief, Difference, and Power in Contemporary Works by Ethnic Women

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The relationship between humans and their gods has always been a primary theme in literature. Until recently, however, books in the American literary canon have rarely been concerned with any supernatural beings other than the Judeo-Christian god. In this book Bonnie Winsbro moves beyond that narrow focus to examine the power of the supernatural in the works of six ethnic writers. Winsbro provides a multicultural perspective - Appalachian, Native American, African American, and Chinese American - on the internal turmoil experienced by ethnic individuals when their belief systems clash with those of family, community, or dominant culture. Although their responses to such conflicts differ, Winsbro argues, all six authors believe that personal power is acquired through self-definition, the process by which one constructs one's own reality as a foundation for living in one's own center rather than on another's margins. By analyzing works that treat seriously a belief in such supernatural figures as witches, healers, and ghosts, Winsbro seeks to show that the contemporary world is not defined by one reality - a rationalistic, scientific reality, for example, or a Judeo-Christian reality - but by many realities.

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