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Between History and Text: New Perspectives on Toni Morrison’s Later Fiction.

Author Anna IATSENKO
Director of thesis Professor Deborah Madsen
Co-director of thesis
Summary of thesis

In my ongoing PhD project, provisionally entitled Between History and Text: New Perspectives on Toni Morrison’s Later Fiction, I problematize the current critical approaches to Morrison’s texts which tend to distribute themselves between historical and formalist clusters. Whereas with reference to Morrison’s earlier works critics had a tendency to position Morrison as the creator of an “authentic” African-American identity anchored within the past of slavery, formalist approaches accounted for the intricacies and complexities of Morrison’s use of language, narration, characters and other such internal aspects of the text, proclaiming Toni Morrison’s fiction to be irrevocably post-modern. By focusing on Morrison’s three later novels – Beloved, Jazz and Love – I demonstrate how historical and formalist approaches provide reductive readings of the texts and, at the same time, I propose that the texts escape the rigid imposition of critical matrices. Instead, rather than trying to impose a particular critical or theoretical approach on to the text, I propose that Morrison’s texts are already highly theoretical and boldly engage with complex philosophical issues of “being in the world,” deconstructing the old western notions of ontology and epistemology and providing new ideas anchored in black aesthetic forms.

Administrative delay for the defence