Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Ana Luszczynska

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Heather Russell

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Third Advisor's Name

Nandini Dhar

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Martha Schoolman

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


English language and literature, Middle Passage, Zong massacre, Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, M. NourbeSe Philip, Fred D'Aguiar, Toni Morrison, Jean-Luc Nancy, slavery, archive, ethics, voice, sound studies, postcolonial, deconstruction, deconstructive ethics

Date of Defense



This thesis grapples with questions surrounding representation, mourning, and responsibility in relation to two literary representations of the ZONG massacre of 1781. These texts are M. NourbeSe Philip’s ZONG! and Fred D’Aguiar’s FEEDING THE GHOSTS. The only extant archival document—a record of the insurance dispute which ensued as a consequence of the massacre—does not represent the drowned as victims, nor can it represent the magnitude of the atrocity. As such, this thesis posits that the archival gaps or silences from which the captives’ voices are missing become spaces of possibility for additive representation. This thesis also examines the role voice and sound play in these literary texts and the deconstructive-ethical philosophies of Jean-Luc Nancy and Jacques Derrida. This thesis argues that these texts invoke the sonic materiality of voice in the service of responding to the disremembered dead through mourning and acknowledgment.





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