Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Humanities, PhD

Committee Chair

Allen, Annette

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Wiggins, Osborne

Committee Member

Wiggins, Osborne

Committee Member

Anderson, David

Committee Member

Makris, Mary


Morrison, Toni--Criticism and interpretation; Kahlo, Frida--Criticism and interpretation; Social justice in literature; Social justice in art


The purpose of this cross-disciplinary dissertation is to explore how magic(al) realist techniques are applied in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Love and Frida Kahlo’s selected paintings to dramatize the traumas experienced in post-colonial period, and how the artists resist the cultural hegemony through their art works. From the magic(al) realist and Gramscian point of view, the dissertation focuses on 1) the similar situations and cultural hegemony of African Americans and Frida Kahlo had experienced; 2) why and how Toni Morrison and Frida Kahlo chose and used magic(al) realist techniques in their art works to dramatize the traumas; and 3) how Toni Morrison and Frida Kahlo resist the cultural hegemony by applying magic(al) realist techniques in their art works. The results show that in the post-colonial period, African Americans and Frida Kahlo were influenced by the hegemonic culture and the traumas they experienced were caused by colonization and cultural hegemony. Toni Morrison and Frida Kahlo aimed at arousing the awareness of the marginalized people in such situation. Therefore, both of the outstanding artists applied magic(al) realist techniques in Toni Morrison’s novels Beloved and Love and Frida Kahlo’s selected paintings to exaggerate the physical and psychological traumas that African Americans and Frida Kahlo had gone through. In Beloved and Love, Toni Morrison dealt with traumas took place on African American women caused by colonialism and Euro-American hegemonic culture. In order to depict the pain to the most, Toni Morrison blended the boundary between the practical world and magical world, to make it possible to the readers to share the sufferings that African American women went through in the colonial and post-colonial period. Toni Morrison did not stop at depicting the traumas, she in fact used magic(al) techniques to bring the dead back to the world to dramatize the traumas and focused on the causes for these traumas, that was, the hegemonic culture in colonialism and pot-colonialism. By writing the novels with these techniques, Toni Morrison resisted the post-colonial hegemonic culture. Not like Toni Morrison, who described collective traumas of African Americans; Frida Kahlo portrayed her own physical and psychological traumas by applying magic(al) realist techniques in her selected paintings. She integrated Mexican indigenous cultural heritage and pre-Columbian images in her paintings to resist the influence from the hegemonic culture. She rejected standard western concept of beauty in paintings by combining magical objects with objects in real world.