Toni Morrison and the Queer Pleasure of Ghosts

By Juda Bennett

Subjects: Literary Criticism, Literature, Queer Studies, African American Studies, Lesbian / Gay Studies
Paperback : 9781438453569, 215 pages, July 2015
Hardcover : 9781438453552, 215 pages, December 2014

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Table of contents

1. Introduction
2. Spirit: Sula Haunts Beloved
3. Houses: Beloved Haunts Paradise
4. Matriarchy: Paradise Haunts Love
5. Music: Love Haunts Song of Solomon
6. Voice: Song of Solomon Haunts Jazz
7. Blackness: Jazz Haunts Tar Baby
8. Whiteness: Tar Baby Haunts A Mercy

9. Mutable Bodies:  The Bluest Eye Haunts Home
10. Conclusion


Offers the first queer reading of all ten of Morrison's novels.


Toni Morrison and the Queer Pleasure of Ghosts radically intervenes in one of the most established and sacred topics in Toni Morrison scholarship, love. Moving beyond Morrison's representation of ghosts as the forgotten or occluded past, Juda Bennett uncovers how Morrison imagines the spectral sphere as always already queer, a provocation and challenge to heteronormativity—with the ghost appearing as an active participant in disruptions of compulsory heterosexuality, as a figure embodying closet desires, or as a disembodied emanation that counterpoints homophobia. From The Bluest Eye to Home, Morrison's novels have included many queer ghosts that challenge our most cherished conceptions of love and speak to cultural anxieties about black sexualities, gay marriage, AIDS, lesbian visibility, and transgender identities. Not surprisingly, the scene-stealing ghost Beloved appears at the very heart of this book, but Bennett cautions against interpretative stasis, inviting readers to break free of the stranglehold Beloved has had on imaginations, so as not to miss the full force of Morrison's lifelong project to queer love.

Juda Bennett is Associate Professor of English at the College of New Jersey and author of The Passing Figure: Racial Confusion in Modern American Literature.


"Love is probably the most popular topic among Morrison scholars, but Juda Bennett trumps the rest with her fresh approach. " — American Literary Scholarship

"This important contribution to Morrison scholarship suggests productive new ways to interpret her individual novels and her oeuvre and makes interesting new links among her works as well. " — CHOICE