Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Melinda Knight

Committee Member

Laura Nicosia

Committee Member

Adam Rzepka


This study is an examination of white hegemonic masculinity and its effect on tyrannized black male figures in Toni Morrison’s Beloved . These disenfranchised figures suffered psychological trauma through the perpetuation of marginalized and subordinate masculinities within the “blues epistemological” apparatus by means of self-realization. Blues epistemology is a term that Clyde Woods describes as “a longstanding African American tradition of explaining reality and change. This form of explanation finds its origins in the processes of African American cultural construction within, and resistance to, the antebellum plantation regime” (25). Beloved serves as a form of historical text by means of giving voice to the otherwise disremembered; therefore, the use of the term blues epistemology is used in this essay to integrate the blues aesthetic to contextualize the marginalization of black males on the Sweet Home Plantation through a sociological investigative lens. Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved is a neo-slave narrative written in 1987. The novel was written during the post-colonial era, which gives readers a bird’s eye view of the traumatic psychological effects of slavery. The narrative is set in Cincinnati, Ohio in the year 1873 after the Civil War. Morrison uses nonlinear narration and employs flashbacks to the Sweet Home plantation in Kentucky and to a prison camp in Alfred, Georgia during the colonial period. The underpinnings of class and race structures are evident in this cultural dynamic between the subordinate black male proletariat and the dominant (elite) bourgeois white male.

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