Chronotopes of Trauma in Toni Morrison’s "Beloved"


African American historical novel

How to Cite

Ben Rhit, Abdelkader. 2020. “Chronotopes of Trauma in Toni Morrison’s "Beloved"”. Brolly 3 (2):43-53.


Trauma, a phenomenon which is too shocking to be fully registered upon its occurrence and which, instead, only manifests belatedly and somewhere else in intrusive images and compulsive re-enactments offers specific challenges to traditional notions of referentiality. This paper seeks to explore how traumatic experiences, such as The Middle Passage, slavery and racism can be represented, read, and perhaps worked through in terms of temporal and spatial references. By reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved, this paper seeks to demonstrate that trauma is represented, acted out, and possibly worked over, not just through references to time but also to space – geographical, bodily, and textual. Through the analysis of the configuration of space/place in Morrison’s Beloved, this paper reads trauma using Caruth’s theorizations and Bakhtin’s notion of chronotope. It offers an innovative reading of Beloved and argues that Morrison’s novel is a memory-site for remembering and bearing witness to the past traumatic event, a novel that attempts to communicate the spatiotemporally disruptive force of trauma. Finally, this paper aims to contribute to literary trauma studies by reconsidering and expanding the idea of representing trauma by using the concept of chronotope.