Each semester, the Institute for African American Studies offers undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to pursue AFAM scholarship under the direction of a faculty member in a small seminar course setting (AFAM 4250/6250). During Fall 2019, our Director of the Institute for African American Studies and Professor of Religion, Dr. Carolyn Jones Medine, leads students through Toni Morrison's trilogy: Beloved, Jazz, and Paradise. Though course planning began earlier in the year, the course is timely. Sadly, Morrison passed away on August 5, 2019.
On Friday, August 16, 2019, Cine Athens hosted a special viewing of Morrison's documentary, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am. Medine introduced the film and reminds us that Morrison taught all of her life, as a teaching professional, editor, and writer. On this occasion, she said, "It struck me, as I started teaching my course on her trilogy this week, that she was teaching America -- engaged in a kind of ongoing re-formation of the American understanding of the place of African Americans in America. She almost single-handedly moved the American literary taste towards African American fiction in her work as an editor at Random House, where she introduced Gayl Jones, Toni Cade Bambara, and other African American women writers to the literary world. And she was rewarded for this work and for her own contributions to literature with a Nobel Prize in Literature...She finds stories, memories, and emotions that we have forgotten, and that we, as Americans, want to forget. Her work on the African presence in America probes those memories. She wants us to understand not just the data, the history (which has already in many ways been interpreted for us), but the spirit that is transformative."
We honor Morrison's legacy by reading, feeling, and learning together through her trilogy this semester. We encourage interested students to check back in the coming weeks for Spring 2020 AFAM course offerings. If you would like to inquire about the AFAM major, minor, or courses, please email your name, 81 number, and question to email@example.com or stop by 315 Park Hall.