Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison received her M.A. in English at Cornell University in 1955. To study her, in a way, is to gain a deeper understanding of how she journeyed on from her days as a student here to become one of the world's greatest writers, how she has helped to transform world literature, and how she has shaped Cornell's great legacy. In this course, we will engage in close and reflective critical readings of Toni Morrison's eleven novels. Morrison's writing style is characterized by highly distinctive strategies in the development of narrative and in the use of language. Furthermore, from novel to novel, she is even known for developing features such as the very first sentence with great contemplation, an approach that also demonstrates her commitment to form. As we journey across her body of work as readers, we will examine a range of recurring themes, along with the "love trilogy" on which she focused her repertoire for several years. The course, through a comprehensive, chronological and focused look at Morrison's body of novels, will help students who entirely lack familiarity with it to gain a strong foundation for further research and study. By the end of the course, even students who already know Morrison's work will walk away with a deeper and more nuanced critical understanding of it. The course will help students to reinforce their skills in reading fiction, and help them to become more astute and exacting readers of the novel as a genre. Morrison's novels have placed her at the vanguard of the globalization of the novel itself, and she is, undisputedly, one the most famous and innovative writers in the world. She emerged as one of the greatest and most prolific writers of the twentieth century, and her audiences have continued to be captivated by her literary genius in this millennial age. She is one of the most revered writers within the American literary establishment and has helped to reshape it both as a critic and novelist. Her work can help one to develop more mastery in reading the novel as a genre. Indeed, her thinking about this area is so original and pivotal that her fiction and critical works are absolutely indispensable for all serious students and scholars in fields such as American literature. Its impact on African American literature is equally vital. We will focus on reading the repertoire of novels by Morrison, including The Bluest Eye, Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), Tar Baby (1981), Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992), Paradise (1998), Love (2003), A Mercy (2008) Home (2012), and God Bless the Child (2014). We will screen the 1998 film adaptation of her novel Beloved, along with documentaries related to Morrison such as Gail Pellet and Bill Moyers's Toni Morrison: A Writer's Work and Gary Deans, Alan Hall and Jana Wendt's Toni Morrison: Uncensored.
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