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Recognizing Trauma, Expanding Treatment: Toni Morrison’s Portrayal of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in *Sula*, *Beloved*, and *Home*

dc.contributor.advisorGoddu, Teresa
dc.contributor.authorPribish, Abby
dc.descriptionEnglish Department Honors Thesis.en_US
dc.description.abstractI argue that one of the most major focuses in Toni Morrison’s novels is the exploration of trauma, specifically the forms of trauma that have afflicted the African American community. Although Morrison’s novels predominantly feature African American characters and communities, the traumatic events she explores, including active combat, domestic abuse, and deadly accidents, transcend racial boundaries. Trauma can be universal, and thus the arguments about trauma that emerge from Morrison’s novels, while certainly having significance in a racial discussion, should be thought about in universal terms as well. Morrison’s novels are thus tools with which to reflect on the implications of trauma in a global sense, and to investigate how descriptions of trauma are informed by—and even respond to—the historical moment in which they were written. While there are many ways of expressing and relating trauma, I will focus on Morrison’s literary portrayal of mental illness, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I will evaluate this issue in three of Morrison’s novels: Sula, Beloved, and Home. Morrison’s novels feature an abundance of mentally ill characters, which can be explained by the fact that mental illness is both a common physiological byproduct of trauma and a means of psychological detachment from unbearable traumatic realities. Morrison does not depict trauma merely to show its insidious presence in the African American psyche, and does not explore mental illness merely to demonize the systems and prejudices that instilled it. Instead, her novels offer complex meditations on the network of factors that give rise to mental illness over time, the treatment options available to victims of mental illness at the narrative present, and the impact of mental illness on both the individual and the community.en_US
dc.publisherVanderbilt Universityen_US
dc.subjectMorrison, Tonien_US
dc.subjectPTSD and literatureen_US
dc.subjecttrauma studiesen_US
dc.subjectliterature and medicineen_US
dc.subject.lcshMorrison, Toni -- Criticism and interpretationen_US
dc.subject.lcshPost-traumatic stress disorder in literatureen_US
dc.titleRecognizing Trauma, Expanding Treatment: Toni Morrison’s Portrayal of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in *Sula*, *Beloved*, and *Home*en_US
dc.description.collegeCollege of Arts and Scienceen_US
dc.description.schoolVanderbilt Universityen_US
dc.description.departmentEnglish Departmenten_US

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