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Title: 'The changing same' : language and politics and literary tradition in Toni Morrison's fiction
Author: Baillie, Justine Jenny.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2667 1291
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2002
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This thesis examines the progression of Toni Morrison's literary aesthetic within a historical, political and cultural framework, and considers how Morrison's linguistic strategies have evolved as a result of her engagement with intellectual, philosophical and literary developments in African-American and American writing and politics. I first analyse Harlem Renaissance literature to explore the historical context and traditions from which Morrison's aesthetic arises, and to show how Morrison's work is informed by tensions within the Harlem movement. In subsequent chapters, I examine The Bluest Eye (1970) in relation to the Black Aesthetic of the late 1960s, and discuss Sula (1973) and Song of Solomon (1977) in terms of their importance as historical novels as well as the ways in which they reflect contemporary debates surrounding feminism and masculinity. I approach Tar Baby (1981) as a text which problematises female identification with black cultural heritage and my final chapter is concerned with Morrison's genealogical recovery and exploration of African-American history in her trilogy Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992) and Paradise (1998). I trace the evolution of Morrison's aesthetic from the contestatory language of The Bluest Eye through an emphasis on the cultural forms of the black community in Sula and Song of Solomon, and finally to her latest attempt to extend the limits of her own aesthetic through the construction of de-raced language in Paradise. I establish a theoretical framework for the examination of Toni Morrison's novels, which includes Mikhail Bakhtin's theories on language and ideology, and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's concept of a 'minor literature' and their study of political theory, psychoanalysis and linguistics. The thesis incorporates an analysis of African-American philosophy, theory and literature, including the work of W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, and Ralph Ellison. The development of a variety of perspectives from which to examine Morrison's novels illuminates the importance of her project as radical critique of the dominant culture and aesthetic and makes possible an examination of the ways in which her linguistic strategies are not only informed by African-American experiences in white American culture, but also contribute to the deconstruction and reconstruction of those experiences.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature