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Other research product . Other ORP type . 2020

Re-centering the History of the Americas: Toni Morrison’s Beloved and A Mercy

Šesnić, Jelena;
Open Access
Published: 01 Jan 2020
Country: Croatia

This article discusses the status of Toni Morrison as an American writer who consistently foregrounded African American history and experience and acted during her long career as a public intellectual. Morrison’s writerly agenda has been to delve into the epistemological origin of constructions such as race and blackness, placed in the context of their historical manifestation, such as transatlantic slavery as manifested in Morrison’s two most striking historical novels, Beloved (1987) and A Mercy (2008). Writing slavery, as a way to re-write the United States’ history and probe its dark spaces, places Morrison’s texts in a long line of nineteenth-century slave narratives, and in particular their twentieth-century avatar, the neo-slave novel, which strives to historicize slavery from the sufferer’s perspective. In the process, Morrison creates a “resistant text” (Sommer) requiring the reader’s imaginative and ethical engagement and refusing to fill in all the gaps. That the haunting of slavery still requires imaginative, historical, and ethical engagement, like the one accorded it by Morrison, is a fact of U.S. American social life to the present day.


HUMANISTIČKE ZNANOSTI. Interdisciplinarne humanističke znanosti., HUMANISTIC SCIENCES. Interdisciplinary Humanistic Studies., the historical novel, the neo-slave novel, transatlantic slavery, Toni Morrison, memory, history

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