Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Laura Nicosia

Committee Member

Melinda Knight

Committee Member

Jeffrey Gonzalez


The purpose of this project is to define the concept of land memory in Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day, considering it in relation to scholarship by Jeffrey Andrew Barash, Paula Gallant Eckard, Patricia San José Rico, and others. This exploration of the relationship between land and memory alongside the magical realistic novel, Mama Day, reveals how the island’s memory constructs, preserves, and coveys the past while influencing the present. The island of Willow Springs retains and remembers the events that transpired there in 1823, which tethers the past to the present and exposes a ripple of consequences felt by Naylor’s characters. The author utilizes land memory in order to reveal how remembrances and trauma can and have affected generations of oppressed people, specifically Africans and African Americans. She reveals how African culture and the trauma surrounding African diaspora can persist in these individuals through ancestral ties.

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