EN 3533

Select Authors: Toni Morrison

Dr. Donald Shaffer

MWF 11:00 - 11:50

Course Description:

For this course, we will consider the novels and critical essays of Toni Morrison, exploring them within a conceptual framework informed by psychoanalytic theory, black feminism, vernacular theory, cultural studies, and new historicism. More specifically, we will examine problems of identity in Morrison's fiction, particularly as they relate to the constructions of race, class and gender in American society. Our thematic focus will center on how Morrison's characters attend to the marginalizing effects of these identity constructs by engaging in self­defining acts rooted in individual and communal memory. As our readings and discussions will reveal, Morrison's fiction pivots on the intersection between constructions of identity and the American literary imagination.


We will consider the following novels and critical works by Toni Morrison: The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved, Jazz; and her collection of critical essays, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. The requirements for the course will consist of the following: (1) a creative assignment (4-5 pages) with a two page critical explanation; (2) two short response papers (3-4 pages); (3) a longer response paper with 2-3 secondary sources (8-10 pages).

Toni Morrison and her first novel

Toni Morrison and the cover of her first novel, The Bluest Eye.