Project Director

Arnett, James J.

Department Examiner

Lubke, Jennifer K.; Whightsel, Oren A.


Dept. of Education


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


This thesis will use close reading and postcolonial and feminist criticism to argue that Africans and African-Americans, and consequently the works of Zimbabwean author Yvonne Vera and African-American author Toni Morrison, are connected by memory and rememory, including spirituality, generational trauma, oral tradition, and ritual reenactment and that this connection comes through the Middle Passage. The works of both authors reveal a transatlantic tradition of Black women employing African spirituality to challenge or overcome what bell hooks calls the oppressive systems of imperialist White supremacist capitalist patriarchies; however, despite the spiritual link between the peoples, Africans and African-American culture can never be one; individual experiences of slavery, colonialism, cultural assimilation, etc. have created divides. The connection between Morrison and Vera is closer linked not only by their shared historical and spiritual background, but also the connection between author and aspiring author. In her biography, Vera’s mother says, “Toni Morrison was also one of her favourite authors and she would read her book, The Bluest Eye, regularly. This is the book that she would read every year on her birthday” which indicates that Morrison influenced Vera (Gwetai 1113). Using Dionne Brand’s poetic nonfiction text, A Map to the Door of No Return, as theory through which to analyze the fiction texts, it also serves to close the geographic gap between Vera and Morrison, demonstrating how the Middle Passage is the place of the imagination to which both authors belong. The primary fiction texts used include Yvonne Vera’s Nehanda, Butterfly Burning, and The Stone Virgins, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved and A Mercy. Each of these texts reveals the untold stories of the girls and women who have endured slavery, imperialism, or their legacies whom are “call[ed]...beloved, which was not beloved” (Beloved epigraph).


B. S.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science.




Women in literature; American literature -- African American authors -- History and criticism


Vera, Yvonne, -- 1965-2005 -- Criticism and interpretation; Morrison, Toni -- Criticism and interpretation


Zimbabwe -- Fiction


Toni Morrison; Yvonne Vera; Zimbabwe; African spirituality; Middle passage; Colonialism



Document Type



91 leaves




Under copyright.


Included in

Education Commons