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Sacraments of MemoryCatholicism and Slavery in Contemporary African American Literature$
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Erin Michael Salius

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813056890

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813056890.001.0001

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Catholicism and Narrative Time

Catholicism and Narrative Time

Transcending the Past and the Present in Stigmata and Oxherding Tale

(p.109) 3 Catholicism and Narrative Time
Sacraments of Memory

Erin Michael Salius

University Press of Florida

Chapter 3 opens the examination of the trope of temporal disjuncture, which will continue in chapter four. It argues that Phyllis Alesia Perry’s Stigmata and Charles Johnson’s Oxherding Tale manipulate past and present modalities (respectively), to contradict the Enlightenment principle that history moves forward progressively and linearly. However, where most scholarship on these novels links temporal disjuncture to non-Western conceptions of time, this chapter suggests that their alternative temporalities reveal a strange and often disconcerting faithfulness to the theology of time that Augustine of Hippo laid out in some of his most canonical works. Since Augustinian theology has had such formative, lasting consequences for Western Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, the argument uncovers a tension in these novels, both of which very plainly reject Western conceptions of chronological progress. Yet such theological contradictions constitute the revisionary historiographic aims of the genre and establish its importance to our understanding of African American literarature.

Keywords:   Augustine of Hippo, Phyllis Alesia Perry, Stigmata, Charles Johnson, Oxherding Tale, Temporal disjuncture, Temporality, Catholicism, African American literature

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