Be it grand or slender, burrowing, blasting, or refusing to sanctify;
whether it laughs out loud or is a cry without an alphabet, the choice
word, the chosen silence, unmolested language surges toward knowledge,
not its destruction.
— Toni Morrison
The loss of Toni Morrison's earthy presence cannot be calculated. What can be done in the face of her death, however, is to celebrate her work by reading it again and again and again—to surround ourselves with the author’s wisdom, clarity, and conviction.
During this four-session tribute and celebration we’ll do just that. Led by longtime Morrison devotee, Dr. Toni McNaron, the first three sessions will focus on novels that form a historical trilogy detailing the perpetual ills of slavery. The books will be read in the order written, from Beloved (January 14) set in the 1860s, to Jazz (January 28) set in the 1970s, to Paradise (February 11) set in the 1920s.
In the final session (February 25), we’ll consider The Origin of Others and Morrison’s Nobel Prize speech. These nonfiction works illuminate two themes often investigated by the author: 1) why we humans seem to demand that there be an "other" or "stranger" in our midst in order to feel comfortable, and 2) the pure and undeniable power contained in the words we write and speak.
Required: Toni Morrison, Beloved (Knopf, 1987); Jazz (Knopf, 1992); Paradise (Knopf, 1997); The Origin of Others (Harvard University Press, 2017); and Nobel Prize in Literature Speech (Nobel Prize, 1993).
Toni McNaron is Professor Emerita of English at the University of Minnesota where she has been the recipient of five awards for outstanding teaching, including the College of Continuing and Professional Studies Distinguished Educator Award.