Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Thomas Koenigs

Reader 2

Aaron Matz

Rights Information

© 2019 Catherine A Leon


This thesis applies "monster theory" as a useful body of scholarship towards understanding the function of Beloved's disruptive emergence in Toni Morrison's 1987 Beloved. Monster theory is outlined here as a framework for understanding the cultural use of monstrous figures in fiction. Scholars that seek to understand monstrosity’s broadest theoretical categories dominantly reference Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as a key means of clarifying the "monsters” that emerge from and reflect their surrounding culture. Due to the dominance of Frankenstein references in monster theory, this thesis applies Frankenstein’s most apparent arguments about the role of monstrosity in literature to Beloved. Through monster theory, this thesis aims to uncover Beloved’s “monstrous” function within Morrison’s novel. I apply theories of the monster as an object of ontological instability, cultural disruption, and knowledge to Morrison’s novel and ultimately argue that while Beloved fits into and enriches the categories of monstrosity dominantly emphasized within monster theory, Beloved's accommodation within the domestic space of 124 runs counter to the theoretical claim that monsters are necessarily repelled within their given fictional landscapes. By exploring what it means to accommodate Beloved in the space of 124’s collectively felt trauma, I oppose the secondary argument of monster theory, which supplies that the act of accommodating, or “hosting,” the monster in fiction is a necessarily valuable project.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.