Toni Morrison’s transgressive literary preaching and folk songs as postmemory
Keywords:archive, aural, mainstream Chirstianity, oral tradition, postmemory, rememory, sermon
This paper intends to study the sermons or ‘‘literary preaching’’ and folk songs in Toni Morrison’s fiction in the light of Marianne Hirsch’s concept of postmemory. Drawing on Hirsch’s postmemory then, this paper articulates that the ‘‘literary preaching’’ and folk songs function within Morrison’s novelistic discourse as postmemory medium that presses against the erasure and the death of a culture and history. The folk songs and ‘‘literary preaching’’ are mediums of transgenerational transmission of trauma and history. Hirsch defines postmemory as the memories that the survivors of trauma bequeathed to their children and grandchildren. Hirsch presents photographs as the instrument through which postmemory is archived and conveyed. She talks about ‘‘photographic archive’’ since photographs can bring back their referents. In comparison, the sermons and folk songs are analyzed as ‘‘oral/aural archive’’, for they have the attribute of triggering memory and postmemory. Also, through her literary preaching, Morrison deconstructs and questions mainstream Christianity by blending it with unorthodox Christian practices. For example, Baby Suggs’ sermon in Beloved gives precedence to the flesh over the spirit, and this sermon is remembered throughout the text as a subdued metaphor.
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