Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Mary Lynn Weiss

Committee Members

Alexander Prokhorov

Francesca Sawaya

Adam Potkay


This paper argues that by limiting magical realism's constitutive tension, or antinomy, between magic and realism to post-colonial "other-speech," contemporary discourses unnecessarily limit the genre's historical scope and literary impact (Ochoa 108). Moreover, they also fail to elucidate the disparate semiotic functions that the genre’s realism and magic serve. Borrowing from Richard Dyer's theory of entertainment and utopia, this paper argues that the genre's realist elements are heavily representational signifiers, "drawing on the audience's concrete experience of the world" to depict social inadequacies (Dyer 27). Conversely, the genre's magical elements are heavily non-representational, not in their authenticity or plausibility, but in their construction of alternative realities within the representational world where things can be better (25,27). Rather than analyzing the genre’s magical elements as singular, this paper argues that magic is a double signifier. Through the proliferation of magic in the phenomenal world, works of magical realism substantiate syncretic theologies, fusing folkloric practices and beliefs with those of organized faith to create new bodies of religious symbolism. This allows magical realism's syncretic theologies to function as cultural problem-solving at two levels, the communal and universal. To examine this latent function of magical realism, this paper analyzes Christian syncretism in Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) and Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita (1967).

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Sunday, November 14, 2027

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