Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Helen Scott


William Faulkner’s novel Absalom, Absalom! mediates the persistence of the violent history of the US South in the present and grapples with the difficulty of narrating and wresting meaning from it. This violence is embodied by Thomas Sutpen, a man who installs himself as planter and patriarch in the antebellum South, and whose narrative trajectory and fate the various narrators attempt to reconstruct. A peculiar anachronism appears in their attempt, however: in the 1820s, Sutpen begins his rise by suppressing a revolution of the enslaved in Haiti. The existence of slavery in Haiti at this historical juncture implies that the Haitian Revolution had not yet happened, and that Sutpen himself is capable of stopping it. Rather than pass over this contradiction between narrative and history as a relatively insignificant error, I center and theorize it as constitutive of Absalom, Absalom! as a whole. In doing so, I arrive at the significance the Haitian Revolution holds for the novel and for universal history as an eruption of Black radicality that tokens temporal rupture, concentration of totality, and dialectical process.



Number of Pages

102 p.