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Toni MorrisonMemory and Meaning$
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Adrienne Lanier Seward and Justine Tally

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781628460193

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2015

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781628460193.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM Mississippi SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mississippi.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Mississippi, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

The Sound of Change

The Sound of Change

A Musical Transit through the Wounded Modernity of Desdemona

(p.255) The Sound of Change
Toni Morrison

Lenore Kitts

University Press of Mississippi

In Morrison’s performance piece, Desdemona, racial, class and gender politics permeate her “reimagining” of Shakespeare’s play and the tragedy (and voicelessness) of his female protagonist. Kitts anchors her examination of these themes in the stage production of Desdemona emphasizing another recurring element in Morrison’s work: the “persistence of the past into the present through song.” Kitts argues that Morrison’s lyrics challenge audiences “to reevaluate the actions of Shakespeare’s characters, particularly the women” and, as importantly, Morrison “modernizes the ambiguities about Africa in Shakespeare’s Othello with the aid of Malian composer Rokia Traoré’s socially charged music.” In the on-stage conversation, both dialogic and musical, between Desdemona and her nurse “Barbary,” who here finally reclaims her rightful African name, Sa’ran (or “joy”), the audience listens to Desdemona’s story from her own point of view, and Desdemona comes to understand the thoughts and feelings of Sa’ran through her woman-oriented Africanist story. (149 words)

Keywords:   Desdemona, Rokia Traoré, Barbary, Shakespeare’s Othello, Race, class, gender politics

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