Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969): An African American Woman’s Autobiography as Social and Psychological Discourse.

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Mouloud Mammeri University of Tizi-Ouzou


This dissertation studies the construction of an African American woman’s identity from psychological and sociological perspectives, in Maya Angelou’s autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969). To achieve our goal, we have relied on W.E.B. Du Bois’s theory of “Double Consciousness” introduced in his work The Souls of Black Folk (1903). We have first studied the devaluation of the protagonist’s identity as a little black girl living in the bottom of the American society. We have introduced the main social factors which enhance the distortion of her psychological state. Second, we have examined Maya’s journey to self-revaluation, which is characterized by a positive sense of herself as an individual, and as an important social constituent. The analysis of the development of the protagonist’s identity in the light of Du Bois’s theoretical concepts, shows that the character of Maya, as many African Americans in general, and Black women in particular, had passed through several social circumstances, which shaped the construction of her self-consciousness and her identity as an African American woman.





Langues et Cultures des Pays Anglophones et Médias