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Eroticism, Spirituality, and Resistance in Black Women’s
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Donna Aza Weir-Soley

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813033778

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813033778.001.0001

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Contradictory Directives and the Erotics of Re-membering

Contradictory Directives and the Erotics of Re-membering

New World Spiritual Practices and Black Female Subjectivity in Beloved

(p.79) 3 Contradictory Directives and the Erotics of Re-membering
Eroticism, Spirituality, and Resistance in Black Women’s Writings

Donna Aza Weir-Soley

University Press of Florida

This chapter traces and substantiates Toni Morrison's use of African and African New World religions in Beloved through essays written by Morrison, an interview between Morrison scholars that demonstrates Morrison's research into the ethnographic studies of Robert Farris Thompson in preparation for writing Beloved, and through The Black Book, which was edited by Morrison long before Beloved was written. It then analyzes the sign systems of Haitian Voudoun in Morrison's text through a nexus of spiritual symbols and images that permeate the work. Morrison also consolidates several important features of West African belief systems from Yoruba cosmology in Beloved. The figure of Amy Denver, the working-class white woman in the novel, embodies characteristics of Yoruba goddesses Yemonja and Oshun. But perhaps no other passage in Beloved invokes New World religious signification more profoundly than the lovemaking scene between Beloved and Paul D.

Keywords:   Toni Morrison, Beloved, The Black Book, New World religions, spiritual symbols, Haitian Voudoun, Yoruba cosmology, Robert Farris Thompson

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