Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English Composition



First Advisor

Delgado, Juan

Second Advisor

Carlson, David

Third Advisor

Page, Phillip


This paper addresses the Western African oral concept of griot, as it utilizes nommo, the Bantu term which denotes the magical power of words to cause change, as a critical African American lexical lens. It will foreground the fiction of Octavia E. Butler and John Edgar Wideman through the critical lens of griot as a means to construct African American community and culture through narrative by utilizing nommo. Nommo is an "African concept in which the word is a life force; the word is creator rather than created" even after it has been spoken or written. Traditionally the griot is the human repository of remembered history and traditions of the oral West African culture. A griot is the culture in the sense that it refers to the collecting of stories, genealogies, histories, songs and rituals only to the disseminate them throughout the people so that everyone has the same shared history. So griots use their knowledge of community, history, genealogy and tradition to maintain the society as a means to create harmony and unity.