Writing the Deceased Back to Life: A Sin or an Honor

In class yesterday we talked about the concerns around narrating the lives of those who have died.  More specifically, we talked about what it means to give life to those who traveled on the Middle Passage.  In Hartman’s “Venus in Two Acts,” we read about double-edged sword that Hartman struggles with every day; she wants to tell the stories of the slaves in the archives, but claims they have “impossible stories to tell.”  This desire to tell someone’s story, but worry which constrains that desire, is something I constantly find myself struggling with.  This leads me to further question what it actually means to narrate the lives of those who have passed away.  Hartman writes how we, writers, could never do the lost lives justice.  While I believe this claim to an extent, I think that writers may write in a way that commends the lives that were lost.  Continue reading “Writing the Deceased Back to Life: A Sin or an Honor”

Retelling the Slave Narrative

I just finished reading “Venus in Two Acts” and I have to say this essay really struck a chord with me. Since elementary school, the African American literature I’ve been exposed to was almost exclusively about slavery. I can’t think of any specific titles right now, and my memory could be skewed, but it seems as though once a year growing up we read our one token African American novel in reading group (the lack of diversity in the kinds of books we read is a problem in and of itself that I’ll save for another post) and it was always about slavery in a historical sense.

Continue reading “Retelling the Slave Narrative”

The Holy Damned

I’ve been told many times that the Bible is the greatest book ever written, from a purely literary standpoint, I might even be inclined to believe this. The correlations to biblical figures or stories to modern day literature is a prevalent subject of discussion that I have with myself. In class when we discussed the Holy Trinity, I realized there are many biblical aspects of Beloved, that I may have previously overlooked. Though I must admit, some of the distinctions drawn and conversations roused in class escape me in meaning, and I often feel as if I am only getting a general idea of what is being said. And to that point I might be diverging from the path of discussion traveled in class. Consider yourself forewarned. Continue reading “The Holy Damned”

Sense and Sexuality: Foucault, Wojnarowicz, and Biopower.

I’m taking this blog in a bit of a different direction; rather than the explorations of novels I said would come next, I’m using this post to share part of my current annotated bibliography.  My reasoning for doing so is twofold:  first, I’m struggling a bit with writing my post about Apex Hides the Hurt, and I’m hoping that by rehashing the ideas I’ve worked with, I’ll be able to better articulate what I’m trying to communicate (after writing and editing this post, this proved true).  And second, this post will give readers a better idea of what exactly I’ve been doing since the beginning of the semester.  I found writing this post incredibly helpful, so I think moving forward I’ll be sure to do annotated bibliography posts for the essay I’ve read/will read in addition to my posts about the literature.  Continue reading “Sense and Sexuality: Foucault, Wojnarowicz, and Biopower.”

Was There Another Way?

As we finished up the reading for Beloved in class, there was an almost overwhelming amount of content to discuss not only within the book, but outside the book as well.  One of the discussions that Dr.McCoy urged us to look into outside of class was about Bresha Meadows and Marissa Alexander.  Not being familiar with either of these names or the conversations taking place because of them, I decided to look into them in order to help aid our own conversations and discussions within the class and the blog.

Both Meadows and Alexander are victims of domestic violence, but at a glance it almost would not seem so because they are being charged with aggravated murder and aggravated assault respectively. Continue reading “Was There Another Way?”

Churning Thoughts on Possession

As we discussed in class, Toni Morrison’s Beloved is in conversation with many different texts, including John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government. Dr. Beth pointed out Locke’s preoccupation with the protection and regulation of property, and also his law of nature which mentions that people own a property in themselves. This makes it a crime to harm, not only others, but also oneself.

Ever since I took Dr. Beth’s African American Literature course, I have been rolling over in my mind the ideas of both property and possession. The object and the action. Beloved, in a complicated web-like fashion, engages in this conversation, especially in the last several chapters. Continue reading “Churning Thoughts on Possession”

Baby Suggs vs Bernice Johnson Reagon

Hello all!

I found today’s video to be really interesting.  I was reminded of Baby Suggs’ religious speakings when Bernice Johnson Reagon was talking/singing.  Reagon explained how communal singing announced that black people “were here”–that they existed.  I think that Baby Suggs’ spoken “Word” allowed black people to feel a similar sense of belonging.

This is from page 103, explaining how Baby Suggs’ preaching came about: “It started that way: laughing children, dancing men, crying women and then it got mixed up.  Women stopped crying and danced, men sat down and cried, children danced; children danced, women laughed, children cried until, exhausted and riven, all and each lay about the clearing damp and gasping for breath.  In the silence that followed, Baby Suggs, holy, offered up to them her great big heart.”

I think what Reagon does is similar to Baby Suggs in that she raises people the same way Baby Suggs does.  Baby Suggs tried to get as many people as possible to join in, and Reagon does the same.   Morrison writes that the black people were “gasping for breath.”  From this image, I pictured Reagon singing with others.

One of my favorite things that Reagon said was how, when black people sing together, they say “I” instead of “We.”  “We” implies the presence and inclusion of white people, while “I” brings together African Americans alone.  I enjoyed listening to her explain this.

Do you think Baby Suggs and Reagon are similar?  Do you notice any differences?


Snow Tension

When we were asked in class to discuss the relation (if any) between accumulating snowfall and Beloved, I was drawing blanks. It almost felt as if I was trying to force a connection. But, after some discussion and brainstorming, my group and I introduced the idea that falling snow could be a reflection of the tension building between the characters in the story. Just as the early flurries of a blizzard appear harmless and somewhat pleasant, the tensions amongst the people in Sethe’s household give off the same vibe, with benign interactions increasing in danger with accumulation.

The first example is found Continue reading “Snow Tension”

Beloved Through Stages of Infancy

Both A Mercy and Beloved are filled with mother-child relationships, many of which drive the stories. In A Mercy, we see Florens and a minha mae, Florens and Lina, Sorrow and Complete, as well as Rebekka and her various children. In Beloved we have Sethe and Denver, Beloved, and her sons, as well as multiple mother figures for Sethe herself.  I couldn’t even begin to cover the dynamics between mothers and children in the two of Morrison’s books that we’ve read so far in one blog post, though Sarah P. mentions Rebekka’s relation with her children here. Yet in thinking about mothers and children in Beloved, especially Sethe’s relationship with Beloved, I noticed that the way which Morrison introduces Beloved seems to create parallels between Beloved and the development of an infant. Continue reading “Beloved Through Stages of Infancy”

Sound in Beloved

(Plot Spoiler if you haven’t finished the reading for 9/26) On Wednesday, Ken brought up that Morrison might have chosen Paradise as the title for the final work in her trilogy simply because she likes the way it sounds, and Dr. Beth wrote the word “sound” on the board. I was instantly reminded of some thoughts on the usage of sound in Beloved that I had when I first read the novel, and I thought I would share them here. In Dr. Beth’s class, I was introduced to Bernice Johnson Reagon who observed that “sound is a way to extend the territory you can affect…so people can walk into you way before they can get close to your body.” Morrison mirrors this extension of our beings in Beloved. Continue reading “Sound in Beloved”