|| I. Slavery
societal institution based on ownership, dominance, and exploitation of
one human being by another and reciprocal submission on the part of the
2. Members of family
can be separated at the will of the owner.
3. Slavery at present--the
selling of people or self-sale for special purposes--e.g. prostitution;
the outpouring of mainland Chinese workers to places such as U.S. and Taiwan
b. the Triangle Trade:
1. route: from England,
with merchandise such as weapons, ammunition, metal, liquor, trinkets,
and cloth, to the west Coast of Africa. From Africa, with human cargo,
to either West Indies or English colonies. And then with agricultural
products such as sugar back to England.
2. "Middle Passage"
3. this trade is a
source of wealth to tribal chiefs, to the shipping business, to plantation
owners in the South, and to merchants and shipbuilders in the North.
4. An estimated 8
to 15 million Africans reached the Americans from the 16th throught the
19 century, with a peak of about 6 million arriving in the 18th century
c. Historic and thematic
relevances to Beloved:
1. Morrison was inspired
by the real life story of Margaret Garner, who she read about in
a 19th century magazine while editing a historical novel. Garner also escaped
from Kentucky to Cincinatti. When tracked down she attempted to murder
all four of her children but only succeeded with one.
Fugitive Slave Acts;
The Reconstruction experience
led to an increase in sectional bitterness, an intensification of the racial
issue, and the development of one-party politics in the South. Scholarship
has suggested that the most fundamental failure of Reconstruction was in
not effecting a distribution of land in the South that would have offered
an economic base to support the newly won political rights of black citizens.
III. History of Black discourse--critical
(e,g, Arthur P. David, Sterling BrownRichard Wright's Native Son,
Cf. Showalter 171.)
IV. Slave Narratives and Beloved:
b. separatism--e.g. Black
Power and Black Aesthetics;
Henry Louis Gates
who can be the critic of black literature? What's the function of
criticism? (e.g. Barbara Christian "Race for Theory")
'By 1970, beginning with
the publication of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, black feminist
writers and critics began to make their voices heard within the literary
community. "Looking for Zora"--Alice Walker...leading others such
as Toni Cade Bambara in [this quest]for Zora Neale Hurston. . . '
d. Black women writers:
discourse: " We have both followed traditional patterns in the institutionalization
of critical momvents, from our beginnings in a separatist cultural aesthetics,
born out of participation in a protest movement, to a middle stage of professionalized
focus on a specific text-milieu in an alliance with acadmeic literary theory;
to an expanded and pluralistic critical field of expertise on sexual
or racial difference. Along with gay and post-Colonial critics,
we share many critical metaphors, theories, and dilemmas, such as the notion
of a double-voiced discourse, the imagery of the veil, the mask, or the
closet; and the problem of autonomy vs. mimicry and civil disobedience.
--development of Black female
1) 19th century: e.g. Frances
Harper & Jessie Fauset. "Of necessity their language was outer
directed rather than inwardly searching" (Christian
2) 20th century until 1940's:
e.g. Dorothy West, Iola Leroy, Neila Larsen, etc. conflicting needs
for "economic stability and 'feminine ideal'" (Christian
236) "On the one hand, the writers try to prove that black women
are women, that. . . they are beautiful (fair), pure, upper class, and
would be nonagressive, dependent beings, if only racism did not exist.
At the same time, they appear to believe that if Afro-American women were
to achieve the norm, they would lose important aspects of themselves"
* exception: Zora Neale
Hurston. (exploration of the self as female and black.)
3) 1950's: self-definitions
began--"the complex existence of the ordinary, dark-skinned woman, who
is neither an upper-class matron committed to an ideal of woman that few
could attain, . . . , nor a downtrodden victim, totally at the mercy of
a hostile society" (238) . [60's: Few novels by Afro-American women
4) early 70's: the
black communities critiqued for their embodying racist stereotypes.
(e.g. The Bluest Eye)
5) mid 70's: heroines as
socio-political actors in the world, not isolated from their communities.
6) Morison: focused on Black
men as well as women.
A. traditional slave narratives:
". . . . In the "Introduction"
to The Classic Slave Narratives, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. accounts for this
phenomenon by reminding us that when the ex-slave author decided to write
his or her story, he or she did so only after reading and rereading the
telling stories of other slave authors who preceded them.
. . .[Douglass's Narrative
(1845) Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)]
As prototypical examples of the genre, they adhere to the narrative conventions
carefully delineated and described by James Olney. According to him,
the vast majority of narratives begin with the three words "I was born"
and proceed to provide information about parents, siblings, the cruelty
of masters, mistresses and overseers, barriers to literacy, slave auctions,
attempts, failures and successes at escaping, name changes, and general
reflections on the peculiar institution of slavery. As Valerie Smith
points out, however, the important distinction between the narratives of
Douglass and Jacobs is that while his narrative not only concerns "the
journey from slavery to freedom but also the journey from slavery to manhood,"
her narrative describes the sexual exploitation that challenged the womanhood
of slave women and tells the story of their resistance to that exploitation."
B. Beloved and slave narratives
"While the classic slave
narrative draws on memory as though it is a monologic, mechanic conduit
for facts and incidents, Morrison's text foregrounds the dialogic characteristics
of memory along with its imaginative capacity to construct and reconstruct
the significance of the past.
linear narrative fashion
B--meandering through time,
sometimes circling back, other times moving vertically, spirally out of
time and down into space.
p.. 192-93--"Unlike the
slave narrative which sought to be all-inclusive eyewitness accounts of
the material conditions of slavery, Morrison's novel exposes the unsaid
of the narratives, the psychic subtexts that lie within and beneath
the historical facts."