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'What it is to be a man' : beyond stereotypes of African American masculine identities in selected works by Toni Morrison.

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This dissertation comprises a literary investigation of the way in which Toni Morrison is able to transcend stereotypes associated with African American masculinity within a selection of her works namely, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby and Paradise. I apply Carl Jung’s transcendent concept of the paradoxical Self as a lens through which to analyse Morrison’s different representations, illustrating how this concept affects the formation of identity and an understanding of masculinity. I also make use of Frantz Fanon, who suggests that Jung’s concept of the Self is a way in which black men are able to understand their experience of the world, in that such an experience is paradoxical in nature. It is this paradoxical experience of the world that I argue Morrison highlights in her male characters. In examining Morrison’s representations of masculinity, I also illustrate the intersection of race and gender and how this intersection affects identity creation, given the unique position that African American men occupy within American society.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2012.


Morrison, Toni--Criticism and interpretation., African Americans--Race identity., African American men in literature., Masculinity in literature., Theses--English.