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Toni Morrison and the Classical TraditionTransforming American Culture$
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Tessa Roynon

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199698684

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199698684.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Toni Morrison and the Classical Tradition

Tessa Roynon

Oxford University Press

This introductory chapter positions the argument of this book in relation to recent scholarship in the field of ‘black classicism’. It posits the ‘strategic ambivalence’ of Morrison's classicism, outlining the dominant cultural uses of the classical tradition in definitions of American history and identity with which the text takes issue, and suggesting that the novelist's allusiveness is fundamental to the critical intervention in the politics of race and gender that her oeuvre constitutes. The chapter discusses prior scholarship on Morrison's classicism and presents an overview of the role of classics in Morrison's intellectual formation, and of her own discussion of the classical tradition in essays, interviews, and speeches. Finally, it outlines the book's argument regarding the key narratives of American history that Morrison's classicism transforms.

Keywords:   Toni Morrison, classical tradition, black classicism, race, gender, America, American history, dominant culture, transformation

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