Manifestations and Memory: A Look At Trauma, Hauntings, and “Rememory”

Written By Elizabeth Palmer

Sigmund Freud writes that the uncanny is a distinct “class of…frightening which leads back to what is known of old and long familiar.” He goes on to rhetorically ask how it is “possible…[for] the familiar [to] become uncanny and frightening.” What frightens us most are the things which we can almost recognize. Sometimes, that almost recognizable thing is memory. In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, the word “rememory” is used when the main character, Sethe, recalls moments that have been forgotten. She is faced with these uncanny re-memories—moments that are not quite familiar because they have been tucked away for so long—and at their sudden manifestation, becomes haunted by their existence.

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“Beloved” Mind Map

Today’s post will deviate just a bit from our usual set because we felt that this would be an excellent time to share with you the process that our classes and discussions go through.

The following includes pictures taken by Wendy Faunce, featuring me, Mackenzie Fluharty, and the “Mind Map” I had made on the board during class time as we had our final discussion of the novel Beloved by Toni Morrison, along with my explanation for each part pictured. The discussion began after the class read a few excerpts from Avery Gordon’s chapter on Beloved in her book Ghostly Matters.

NOTE:  This post is made upon the assumption that readers have some kind of understanding of Beloved. 

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