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Taking up the Mantle: African American Women Writers After Morrison

Seminar Leader:
Herman Beavers


In this seminar, we endeavored, first, to understand the nature and scope of Toni Morrison’s literary legacy, not only as novelist, but also as a literary critic, and a social commentator. We read several of Morrison’s essays and lectures, including the one she delivered when she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. But from there, we moved to consider African American women’s writing in the 21st Century. We worked across literary genres: poetry, drama, fiction, and cinema in order to ruminate on how or if these writers are responding to Morrison’s influence. What themes have emerged for these writers that are unique to our moment? In this time of racial protests, how are they responding to our present racial crisis? Some of the writers we read include Danielle Evans, Amina Gautier, Desiree Cooper, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, Natasha Trethewey, Ayana Mathis, Tracy K. Smith, Elizabeth Alexan-der, Monica Hand, and Morgan Parker.

Unit TitleAuthor


What does it mean to be a Migrant?: Using mentor texts to understand migration

Katherine Volin
Keywords: immigration, migration, poetry, travel

Language, Memory and Bearing Witness: Morrison as Muse for Modern Musings

Ryann Rouse
Keywords: Citing Evidence, collaborative discussion, ELA, Humanities, KWLQ charts, language, Literary Analysis, M.E.A.L. paragraphs, memoir, Memoir Writing, Reader Response Journals, Reading Circles, storytelling

Modern and Contemporary African American Women Poets

Monica Rowley
Keywords: African American, Black Poets, context, Creative Writing, form, function, language, literary devices, poetry, Women poets, women writers, Workshop

“Reading as Writer: Critical Creative Race Thinking Following Toni Morrison’s Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination”

Gregory Probst
Keywords: African American, Africanist., American Africanism, American Literature, blackness, Critical Race Theory, cultural identity, English Language Arts, hybridity, imagination, intersectionality, literary criticism, playing in the dark, queer theory, reading as a writer, Recitatif, teacherless writing workshops, The Crucible, third space, Toni Morrison, whiteness

Exceptional Women: We See You!

Karen Brinkley
Keywords: Achievement Gap, Black joy, culturally, culturally relevant, diversity, Literature, socially transformative curation

Everybody Has a Story….What is Yours?

Tasha Russell
Keywords: banned, Critical Race Theory, digital stories, personal narrative, student voice

Finding Your Voice… then Shouting!

Nicole Flores
Keywords: 5th Grade ELA, activism, comprehension, Novel, poetry, Research, social justice

Living a Values Driven Life

Regina Hastings
Keywords: ELA, Movie Analysis, Novel Analysis, Self Improvement, social justice, values, vocabulary