Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Cartographies of Haunting : Black Feminist Refusal in Toni Morrison’s A Mercy and Octavia Butler’s Kindred Public Deposited

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  • This thesis explores the gendered histories of slavery through the concept of haunting in two neo-slave narrative novels: Toni Morrison’s A Mercy and Octavia Butler’s Kindred. I offer readings of these texts through slavery’s geographic and temporal implications, in order to argue that the logics of antiblackness remain a fundamental pillar of the settler state that is the United States. Chapter two, “To Flavor the Soil of the Earth” discusses how slavery haunts the land, using Morrison’s text to understand how transatlantic slavery and settler colonialism unfold in relation to each other, and produce, through constructions of race, gender, and nation, particular ontological positions for Black women. I examine the way that the narrator’s response to enslavement and racialization threatens to dismantle United States empire. Chapter three, “But I Was Still Caught Somehow”, is framed by a discussion of the temporal aspects of haunting. I argue that Butler’s novel makes sense of the ongoing logics of racial slavery that have transformed, yet continue to be attached to U.S. empire, discussing how the narrator’s body is changed by her experience of traveling in time to an antebellum slave plantation. Finally, the concluding chapter of this thesis explores Black feminist refusal as a politics that rejects narrow parameters of inclusion, and instead insists on ways of being beyond colonial domination.
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