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Title: Dismemberment in the fiction of Toni Morrison
Author: Akhtar, Jaleel
ISNI:       0000 0000 1687 6219
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2015
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Dismemberment in the Fiction of Toni Morrison investigates the motif of dismemberment in Morrison's fiction from multiple perspectives—historical, psychological and cultural. My first chapter on A Mercy focusses on the aspect of historical dismemberment in the context of colonialism and slavery. I look at the forced separation of African Americans from their families and motherland in terms of originary experiences of racism and dismemberment. This entailed fragmentation for African Americans who struggled to develop strategies of survival in the New World. My second chapter on Jazz focuses on the impact of transgenerationally transmitted trauma. I argue that experiences of dismemberment – such as feelings of amputation and phantom limbs – arise not from physical amputation but from traumatic experiences and the unconscious of preceding generations as the result of trasgenerational hauntings. I borrow from the psychoanalytic insights of Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok in my explanation of phantom limbs in Jazz. The third section of my project looks at how social order is brought about in the fictive community of Sula through the scapegoating mechanism. I define the scapegoating principle in Sula in terms of cultural dismemberment because of the ways the community members symbolically cut a pariah figure, like Sula, off by performing symbolic acts of violence. The characterization of Sula emphasizes the psychological need for a scapegoat figure who can give an outlet to the defensive tendencies of the community following discrimination. My final chapter focusses on Morrison's most recent novel Home, which is about homecoming. In this novel, Morrison continues with her project of imagining a space of domestic and social comfort which is physically and psychically safe in the broad sense of a homeland for African Americans. Home offers a place of salvation from social, historical and psychic fragmentation or the traumas of racism which result in experiences of disruption, amputation and dismemberment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PS0229 21st century