Toni Morrison is one of America’s most cherished, studied, and criticized writers. Using antebellum and contemporary American history as her thematic and temporal foundation, Morrison has written about race, gender, class, and sexuality with a keen eye on mythology and fable. In this class, we will read through many of her novels, including but not limited to Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, and A Mercy, in search for how history and craft form her timeless stories. To supplement the novels we will read several essays by leading Morrison scholars; essays that explicate traditional Afro-Diasporic spiritual traditions such as Yoruba, Santeria, and Ba Kongo; as well as short stories that invite a deeper understanding of how Afro-Diasporic spirituality and Black American fables inform Morrison’s considerations.
Students will read approximately one book a week, write two response papers, and turn in a final critical/creative paper. Class participation is of utmost importance. There are no exams for this class.