What is it to move in the margin?

Toni Morrison 4 Part Research Outline and Informal Essay

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Stephanie Adrales

College Writing II, Fall 2020
Four-Part Research Outline


1_Language is used is an act with consequences.
2_Giving up on finding ways to express difficult past, pain, or trauma. That language is more difficult to speak so we give in to “false memories of security”.
3_Morrison also describes this as a “tongue-suicide”. Taking the easy way out with comfortable language.
4_Language cannot do anything on its own.
5_The system of language is not changed overnight. As with any other system, it’s calculated and structural, serving or denying the power.
Quotes from Noble Prize Speech
1_Shift attention away from assertions of power to the instrument through which that power is exercised.
2_Systematic looting of language by the tendency of its users to forget its nuanced complex, midwifery properties for menace and subjugation.
3_Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence.
4_A mad for television script that makes no sense if there is nothing in our hands.
5_Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names.
6_What is it to move in the margin? What is it to have no home in this place?

Extended Research Questions:

What language has been used to dehumanize people? What political and cultural gains were to be made from this dehumanizing language? How far would a country support the pain and suffering of another human being if they were made to believe that person was not human?

Research Direction:

I want to look into present and recent past examples of dehumanization by the media and government. While there are many examples, I’m also curious what systems of oppression are upheld by “false memories of security” and dehumanizing language. How might they crumble or lose power if that language was rewritten as human-centered?


Atwood, Katie. 2016, Jan. 13. “Donald Trump compares Syrian refugees to snakes”. <https://www.cbsnews.com/news/donald-trump-compares-syrian-refugees-to-biting-snakes/>

Crawford Ames, Beverly. 2019, Sept. 11. “The Dehumanization of Immigrants and the Rise of the Extreme Right”. <https://www.aicgs.org/publication/the-dehumanization-of-immigrants-and-the-rise-of-the-extreme-right/>

Leah, Rachel. 2018, Apr. 21. “The ‘superpredator’ myth was discredited, but it continues to ruin young black lives”. <https://www.salon.com/2018/04/21/the-superpredator-myth-was-discredited-but-it-continues-to-ruin-young-black-lives/>

Resnick, Brian. 2017, Mar. 7. “The dark psychology of dehumanization explained”. <https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/3/7/14456154/dehumanization-psychology-explained>

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