As the recipient of numerous literary prizes (Nobel, Pulitzer, and National Book Critics Circle Award, to name a few), Toni Morrison was an author of international renown whose books routinely occupied a place on best seller lists. Indeed, it is safe to say that her work transcended 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 what is the significance of a literary project that she eschews the white gaze as a controlling motif in Morrison’s fictions? In a moment when discussions about how—and sometimes, if—we value human bodies are happening all around us, this course offers students the opportunity to use the Morrison’s novels as a catalyst for new ways to think about place and placemaking. And what postures we need to assume to cohabit with our neighbors whether they look like us, share our point of origin, or share our views. In the process, we will endeavor to become a learning community in which critical thinking, analysis, dialogue, and debate are central to developing inclusive and nuanced methods of inquiry.
- Teacher: Herman Beavers