2023-2024 Catalog

BLST 360 Toni Morrison and U.S. Imaginative Production

In her 1993 lecture for accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature, Toni Morrison says, “[s]he is convinced that when language dies, out of carelessness, disuse, indifference and absence of esteem, or killed by fiat, not only she herself, but all users and makers are accountable for its demise.” How does language die? What does it mean to be careless with language, to not use it, to be indifferent to it and rob it of its esteem? What does it mean to kill or stifle language by official decree? In our seminar on Toni Morrison, we will engage with the writings of one of the most preeminent writers and critical thinkers in literature (US-based and otherwise) in order to examine the powerful and provocative ways in which she asked and answered these questions before her passing on 05 August, 2019. We will situate her as a cultural critic, one who produced novels, short stories, essays and speeches and in doing so, informed the frameworks of American Literature, Black Feminist Theory, American Studies and Critical Race Studies, among other fields. Thus, we will collectively unpack the ways in which Morrison’s writings have guided, contested and informed American cultural and literary production in the 20th and 21st centuries. Students will be asked to complete a research paper at the end of the term. This course meets the second-stage writing requirement for Black Studies majors.


4 units

Cross Listed Courses

ENGL 360

Core Requirements Met

  • United States Diversity