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Title: Toni Morrison, 'Beloved', race and tragedy
Author: Whitehouse, R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 571X
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis investigates Toni Morrison's engagement with tragedy in her novel Beloved. In opposition to late twentieth-century interpretations of Beloved, which see this novel as reordering or revisiting history in order to establish in its characters a sense of self-worth, this thesis understands Beloved as the narrative which calls a halt to the search for a worthy sense of self in a prescribed history. It argues that the form of this novel is designed and arranged in order to present in dramatic time a conception of a consciousness recognisable as already and always existing in African American individuals: that is, before, during and after slavery. This thesis contends that an engagement with tragedy is crucial in the achievement of this end. In an engagement with Morrison's Nobel Lecture (1993), Chapter One argues that the significations of cultural authority are the result of a process in which negotiations of difference take place (Bhabha 2005). In a study of Morrison's engagement with Du Bois's (1897) theory of double consciousness, Chapter Two researches the complex nature of true fulfilment for the marginalized. Du Bois's difficulty in establishing a simple claim to equality is contrasted with Morrison's rejection of the discourses of difference, exclusion and marginalization (Morrison 1993). Chapter Three develops this line of enquiry to include Morrison's adaption of ancient, tragic drama to the demands of African American writing. Morrison's innovatory use of the separate and external configuration of human sensibilities in the form of Beloved is carefully considered in this chapter. Chapter Four engages with theories concerning the imposition of difference and the material conditions of appropriation, and the signifying system it spawns (Guillaumin 1995). It discusses Morrison's aesthetic engagement with the master/slave relationship.
Supervisor: Gagnier, R. ; Williams, P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available