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The Bible and FeminismRemapping the Field$
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Yvonne Sherwood

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198722618

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198722618.001.0001

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Toni Morrison’s Shulamites

Toni Morrison’s Shulamites

The African-American Song

(p.133) Chapter 7 Toni Morrison’s Shulamites
The Bible and Feminism

Ilana Pardes

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on Toni Morrison’s renditions of new Shulamites in Song of Solomon (1977) and Beloved (1987). The female characters of both novels highlight the power and bold eroticism of the Shulamite’s voice, calling for a different perception of gender relations and feminine sexuality. While offering new representations of femininity, Morrison is no less eager to fashion a new grand Song as a base for a redefinition of the African-American community. In Song of Solomon, the ancient biblical love poem merges with African folk songs and legends and in Beloved, the ghostly Beloved is both a tormented and tormenting Shulamite as well as the spirit of the many slaves whose sufferings she embodies. Special attention is given to Morrison’s response to African-American commentaries on the verse ‘I am black, but comely’ and to points of affinity between her exegesis and feminist biblical criticism in the 1970s and 1980s.

Keywords:   Toni Morrison, Song of Songs, African-American culture, feminist biblical criticism, Bible and literature, biblical interpretation

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