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Toni Morrison: Teaching Learning Resource Collection: Home
This site contains resources related to the writings and career of Toni Morrison (1931-2019), perhaps the most important American novelist of the 20th century. The goal is to present materials on this Nobel-prize winning African American author that will be helpful to students, researchers, teachers, and the general public. Among other things, we are presenting overviews of Morrison's fiction and nonfiction writing, annotated overviews of criticism on Morrison's work, reception histories for her works, and original critical and contextual research that will add to available knowledge on Morrison.
The present plan is to combine materials authored by the site editor, Amardeep Singh (a professor of English at Lehigh University), with student-contributed materials. Over the summer of 2021, Daniel Rosler, a Ph.D. student at Lehigh University, made substantial contributions to the site as a Graduate Research Assistant (see especially Reception Histories and Critical Overviews). All student-contributed materials will be credited to the authors themselves, though essays may contain edits by the site editor.
Funding support for this project was provided by Lehigh University's Humanities Lab, which is in turn funded by a grant from the Mellon Foundation.
Some planned materials include:
- A biographical note on Morrison's life and career, drawing on books like Linda Wagner-Martin's Toni Morrison: A Literary Life and other biographical materials.
- Overviews of each of Morrison's novels.
- Reception histories for each of Toni Morrison's novels, including major reviews published in literary journals and newspapers.
- Annotated bibliographies of criticism related to Toni Morrison’s writings, possibly including criticism by Toni Morrison herself.
- Overviews of Morrison's non-fiction writing and drama, including Playing in the Dark, The Source of Self-Regard, Desdemona, Margaret Garner, and others.
- Maps and data relevant to Morrison’s novels. What does Toni Morrison’s map of the U.S. look like? What cities and states feature in her books, and what geographic patterns can we trace? Ohio is obviously important in The Bluest Eye and Sula; Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia in Song of Solomon; Kentucky, Georgia, Delaware, Ohio in Beloved; Virginia, Baltimore, and NYC in Jazz, and so on. I have been assembling digital ‘maps’ on the project that is in progress, but there is much more to be done.
- History: the East St. Louis Riot of 1917 (Jazz);
- History: an account of the Great Migration and its representation in Morrison's fiction (The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, Jazz, Love, Home)
- Literary history: an account of how Morrison's work fits into the history of African American literature
- Literary / social theory: an account of Morrison as a pioneering figure in intersectional Black feminist thought
- Multimedia: Early (1920s) Jazz and “Race” music, especially musicians, record labels, and performers that are cited by name in Jazz, Love, God Help the Child, and Home
- A close look at The Harlem Book of the Dead (which inspired the plot of Jazz)
- History: the story of the life and trial of Margaret Garner (1856)
- Critical deep dive: An overview of the opera Margaret Garner (2005), for which Morrison authored the libretto
- Critical deep dive: An overview of Morrison's adaptation of Othello, Desdemona (2011);
- An account of the participation of Toni Morrison in Oprah's Book Club
- A detailed overview of Morrison's "Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination"
- An account of the links between the 1934 film "Imitation of Life" and Morrison's "The Bluest Eye";
- An account of Black performers like Bill Robinson (Bojangles) in "The Bluest Eye";
- The lynching of Emmett Till and subsequent acquittal of his killers (Song of Solomon)
- An account of the "Dick and Jane" books, which are extensively referenced in "The Bluest Eye";
- The “Doll Test” (psychological study) (The Bluest Eye)
- Multimedia: annotated summaries of media appearances by Toni Morrison that are available online, including appearances on shows like ‘Oprah’ as well as other venues (i.e., Charlie Rose).
- Digital humanities: to what extent might quantitative text analysis help us understand Toni Morrison's fiction?