Toni Morrison’s shulamites: The African-American song

Ilana Pardes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter focuses on Toni Morrison’s renditions of new Shulamites in Song of Solomon (1977) and Beloved (1987). The female characters of both novels highlight the power and bold eroticism of the Shulamite’s voice, calling for a different perception of gender relations and feminine sexuality. While offering new representations of femininity, Morrison is no less eager to fashion a new grand Song as a base for a redefinition of the African-American community. In Song of Solomon, the ancient biblical love poem merges with African folk songs and legends and in Beloved, the ghostly Beloved is both a tormented and tormenting Shulamite as well as the spirit of the many slaves whose sufferings she embodies. Special attention is given to Morrison’s response to African-American commentaries on the verse ‘I am black, but comely’ and to points of affinity between her exegesis and feminist biblical criticism in the 1970s and 1980s.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Bible and Feminism
Subtitle of host publicationRemapping the Field
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780198722618
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2017.


  • African-american culture
  • Bible and literature
  • Biblical interpretation
  • Feminist biblical criticism
  • Song of songs
  • Toni morrison


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