Toni Morrison and the Adventure of the 21st Century
As the recipient of numerous literary prizes (Nobel, Pulitzer, and National Book Critics Circle Award, to name a few), Toni Morrison (1932-2019) was an author of international renown whose books routinely occupy a place on best seller lists. Indeed, it is safe to say that her work transcends what many readers ascertain as “black writing” in the 21st century. Her works consistently engaged the role memory, place, and community play in our lived experience. But given the fact that she eschewed the white gaze as a controlling motif in her fiction, how did Morrison seek to advance her literary project and to what end? In a moment when the concept of value and how it attaches to human bodies remains a hotly contested topic in contemporary parlance, this survey course seeks to explore how reading Morrison’s fiction and non-fiction can help readers to demystify and ultimately defy systems of Othering. Moreover, in light of Morrison’s recent passing, what constitutes her legacy; how might we characterize her career at a time when social media has altered what it means to be a writer of influence?