As it was pointed out in our introduction to Dante, there are a staggering number of subtle parallels between Dante’s trilogy and Morrison’s. The one that currently holds the most interest for me, and I will be exploring it here, is the presence of ombras/shades. In Inferno, Dante’s Pilgrim encounters ombras, souls in Hell who have sinned, thus condemning themselves to the afterlife there. As a class, we came to the consensus that these souls had each “done individual things” causing their eternal punishment. It implies a kind of agency. Being trapped in Hell didn’t just happen to them. Continue reading “Shadows and Sinners”
As we make the leap from Morrison’s A Mercy to Beloved this week, I can’t help but ask myself one question:
Why so many infant deaths?
In A Mercy, we learn of the numerous untimely passing of Rebekka’s babies. These deaths cause her grief that essentially serve as a driving force for her actions and relationships. For instance, Lina notes that she observes Mistress turning to God for prayer, although she previously believed her to not be much of a “Christian woman”. In Rebekka’s extreme grief, Morrison highlights the severity of impact that a broken maternal bond can produce for a mother. These dead essentially children “haunt” Rebekka, causing her shame, despair, and sadness. Continue reading “Infant Death and Haunting in “A Mercy” and “Beloved””
I spent quite a bit of time trying to find a piece of slam poetry that related to our content in class. While the title of this piece is “All Lives Matter: 1800s Edition” this piece focuses on the inherent white supremacy that existed during that time period.
In high school my band played The Divine Comedy composed by Robert W. Smith. Robert W. Smith composed the three different parts of the Divine Comedy; Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso as all separate movements. He told Dante’s story through music, and for me it really brings Dante’s story to life. Listening to Inferno you can almost imagine yourself entering Hell. The lone oboe solo in the beginning may represent Dante’s long journey into Hell. The loud percussion and brass throughout the movement really have a way of making you feel scared, and vulnerable. As Dante keeps making his way into the depths of Hell, Robert W. Smith adds human moans of agony and whipping sounds. This interpretation that Robert W Smith allows the listener to really understand the pain and harshness of Hell and the way Dante was feeling as he encountered it.
Here is Robert W. Smiths Divine Comedy I.- The Inferno
This is my first blog post for my English senior honors thesis: Biopolitics and the Neoliberal Subject. For my project, I explore illness narratives and the construction of the ill-body in contemporary African-American literature, and the critical conversations surrounding these narratives. More specifically, my thesis seeks to answer this critical question: In contemporary African-American literature, how does the construction of illness and the construction of the ill-body destabilize and ultimately counteract the biopolitical agenda of the neoliberal regime? Currently, this question acts as a guiding force for my research; the wording of the question may evolve as I conduct my research, but this critical question keeps me grounded in what I am seeking to discover.
Names in Toni Morrison’s A Mercy play an interesting role. We have already discussed in class and on the blog the name Patrician, the absence of a name for the Blacksmith, and the name Messalina/Lina. I’ve grown to enjoy finding etymologies for words, and if an author pays attention to names, as Morrison clearly does, then looking for meanings behind names can be equally fun, if not insightful.
A few disclaimers though, well, more like a disclaimer, a personal rule, and an acknowledgment. First, if I mention something that someone in our class has already pointed out and I don’t attribute it to that person then please let me know so I can promptly fix the offense. Second, I didn’t use any online or textual A Mercy guides or articles for this blog post. I don’t think there is anything wrong with using someone else’s research if you acknowledge it, but this removes some of the fun and it may be limiting if you don’t search beyond it. Lastly, sometimes the name game can be taken “too far” and the interpretations can begin to become less insightful and less pertinent. Our class is full of English majors, so I’m sure this gray area of interpretation is not too strange to any of you, but it seems particularly common in the name game. Anyway… Continue reading “The Name Game”
In class this week we discussed the interpretations made by characters within the text. While working in small groups on Wednesday, we tried to find instances wherein these interpretations were either supported or unsettled by the conclusion of the novel. As I was considering the implications of interpretation and misinterpretation, my thoughts began to steer towards the role that the structure of the novel plays in the unfolding of the readers’ own interpretations of the text. As Julie mentioned in her post, the novel is divided into chapters which belong to different characters. This division of chapters only lets the reader understand one slice of the story at a time. These glimpses into different characters’ perspectives reveals how each character understands their position and the position of others. By imposing blinders on readers, Morrison is compelling them to come to terms with their misinterpretations at the end of the novel. Continue reading “On Structure and Interpretation”
Last semester I chose to research in depth about the issue of how lesbian and bisexual women were treated in television shows. I chose this topic because of the frequency of deaths or unhappy exits those characters faced that spring. I noted the issue because my Tumblr dash and Twitter time line were flooded with angry posts from viewers of various shows. Upon research I found out that this unsettling occurrence was a trope and has been consistent in media productions. It is called “Bury your Gays”. According to tvtropes.com, “gay characters just aren’t allowed happy endings. Even if they do end up having some kind of relationship, at least one half of the couple…has to die at the end”. These include characters that are coded as LGB (many being villains), not just ones that expressly say they are interested in the same sex. It is the frequency and degree to which these characters are killed that really leaves a toll on viewers. Their narratives are removed thus excluding knowledge of their experience besides stereotypes. Continue reading “#LetLesbiansLive”
Emily’s blog post noted a quote from Africans in America: America’s Journey Through Slavery. The quote, “Slavery is Indeed an American institution” is something that I haven’t stopped turning over in my head. At first the statement may seem a little shortsighted when you realize that other European countries, including Britain, had been participating in the slave trade. However, when you look at the definition of the word “institution,” the truth of the statement becomes more evident. The online O.E.D has multiple definitions for “institution,” but the one I’d like to draw attention to is, “An established official organization having an important role in the life of a country, such as a bank, church, or legislature.” This seems important to me, especially the phrase, “important role in the life of a country.” When looked at in the context of slavery, this definition has a special, contemporary pertinence. Continue reading ““It is always now””