Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Self, Robert T., 1941-

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Morrison; Toni. Beloved--Criticism and interpretation; Religion in literature; Ghosts in literature


For over one hundred years, African American scholars have sought many means to analyze texts within the African American community. From W.E.B. Dubois's innovative "double consciousness" theory in Souls of Black Folks (1903) to Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s ground-breaking signifyin(g) theory of the Black vernacular tradition in The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism (1988), theories have been developed to address changing literary trends in African-American literature. While these studies have been invaluable to the field of African American criticism, the purpose of this study is to add to the body of knowledge by offering an alternate approach for the interpretation of African American ethnographic creative works that is applicable to literature and film adaptations. Beyond reading notes, glossaries, and language analyses, the study offers an interdisciplinary method, which is a holistic reflection of the culture. This purpose is threefold: (1) to establish the nomenclature of the African American Cultural Language (AACL) as a more suitable interpretive term for ethnographic creations and culture classification, (2) to establish the AACL theory and model in which a matrix is designed as an interdisciplinary guide for ethnographic texts, and (3) to analyze Beloved and the film adaptation by the AACL matrix. The AACL theory postulates that the African American Cultural Language is an art form that was created as a consequence of slavery and the African American Experience; as such, its components of language, history, ideology, rhetoric, and aesthetics can be delineated to offer a method to analyze African American ethnographic texts in an interdisciplinary manner. Just as anthologies provide reading notes for Milton, Chaucer, and Shakespeare's language and literature, 400 years removed from the origin for audiences to glean meaning, the AACL theory and matrix serves as a blueprint to look inside the African-American culture. This study not only provides an analysis of Beloved but also offers further applications for the study and analyses of ethnographic African American literature and film.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 380-391).


xlix, 416 pages




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