Rewriting Black Identities: Transition and Exchange in the Novels of Toni Morrison

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Peter Lang, 2007 - Literary Criticism - 321 pages
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This book received a Toni Morrison Society Recognition Award
The complexity of African-American identities is a central concern in Toni Morrison's writing. Speaking of the enormous layers of lives that [black Americans] live, she has commented that If I examine those layers, I don't come up with simple statements. Drawing on relevant areas of feminist, poststructuralist and race-related theory, this study explores aspects of that complexity, encompassing all eight of her novels to date, including Love (2003).
Opening with an exploration of The Bluest Eye (1970) in the light of psychoanalytic theory concerning the relational self, racial identity and the transitional object, it goes on to analyse Morrison's articulation of changing aspects of black American identity, assessing among other concerns her poetic practice in relation to voice, time, space and memory, her deployment of narrative and generic forms, and her expressive use of intertextual references.
This innovative study also highlights the key stages of historical and cultural transition that feature most prominently in her novels - the fragmentation and dislocation entailed by slavery, the era of Reconstruction and its aftermath, the impact of the Great Migration and the concept of the New Negro, gender difference and conflict, the Civil Rights movement and the politics of black separatism, and the unique ethos of the all-black townships as reflected in Paradise.
 

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Contents

Introduction
11
Chapter 2
53
Chapter 3
79
Chapter 4
105
History Memory and Language in Beloved
129
Chapter 6
161
Chapter 7
191
Chapter 8
245
CONCLUSION
281
Index
311
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About the author (2007)

The Author: Rebecca Hope Ferguson studied English at the University of Southampton, and received her Ph.D. from the University of London in 1981. She has published a study of the works of Alexander Pope (entitled Th'Unbalanc'd Mind: Pope and the Rule of Passion) and a study guide on Pope, together with various articles on Pope's poetry and on the novels of Toni Morrison. She has taught at the University of Wales, Lampeter since 1979, and in 1988-89 was a Fulbright Exchange Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, USA.

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