Toni Morrison By: Hannah Kestner, Jackye Morrisey, Laura
Toni Morrison By: Hannah Kestner, Jackye Morrisey, Laura Graham, Michele Howe, and Jen Currin About the Author Toni Morrison was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford on February 18, 1931 in Lorain, Ohio to George and Ramah Wofford. She had three other siblings and grew up in a working-class family. As a child, Morrison read constantly and her favorite authors were Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy. Morrison's father also told her numerous folktales of the black community (a method of storytelling that Morrison's used in her own writings).
She has two children. Author's Professional Background Morrison received a B.A. in English from Howard in 1953 She earned a Master of Arts degree, also in English, from Cornell University in 1955 Morrison became an English instructor at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas (from 1955-57) then returned to Howard
to teach English She worked as a textbook editor she went to work as an editor at the New York City headquarters of Random House o played an important role in bringing black literature into the mainstream Morrison taught English at two branches of the State University of New York. o In 1984 she was appointed to an Albert Schweitzer chair at the University at Albany, The State
University of New York. From 1989 until her retirement in 2006, Morrison held the Robert F. Goheen Chair in the Humanities at Princeton University Quotes from Beloved "124 was spiteful. Full of a baby's venom." "To Sethe, the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay. The 'better life' she believed she and Denver were living was simply not that other one." "But it wasn't the jungle blacks brought with them to this place from the other (livable) place. It was the jungle whitefolks planted in them." "Dirty you so bad you couldn't like yourself anymore. And though she and others lived through and got over it, she could never let it happen to her own. The best things she was, was her children. Whites might dirty her all right, but not her best thing, her beautiful, magical best thing--the part of her that was clean."
"Aha!" Moments "I think long and carefully about what my novels ought to do. They should clarify the roles that have become obscured; they ought to identify those things in the past that are useful and those that are not; and they ought to give nourishment." - Toni Morrison (What Moves at the Margin) She expects reading to be active, to infer a great deal in her words. Her writing requires concentration, intelligence and imagination. Her writing expects participatory reading. The reader supplies the emotions. !! How do these stories affect Toni Morrison's craft? When she writes, the characters become so real to her that she is sometimes seriously tempted to withdraw from
everyday social life. Her family talked about their dreams in the same way they talked about things that really happened, and they accepted visitations as real. Morrison's style combines these unrealistic elements with a realistic presentation of life and characters. The Life of a Writer Toni Morrison takes inspiration for her books from other types of art like music. For example, for her book "Jazz" she has various voices telling the story because in this musical genre improvisation is key and no one's voice is omniscient. She is largely influenced by the true lessons of history. That is why she doesn't want her characters to escape their past. She wants her
characters to learn from their enriching past. Also part of the problem in her stories is coming to terms with history. She has been told that she writes in black English, where the speaker uses the present tense for events in the past. She is very sensitive to languages from an early age. She grew up on a steel town (Lorain, Ohio) with many immigrants. Why do author studies with children? Author studies help to develop a deeper understanding of:
What an author is and how they can become one What makes an author special o word usage, topic choices, attention to details Style and how it is developed in/through multiple works o the author's personal style is present in each novel Comprehension o multiple works with similar elements (patterns and connections) o analyzing and critiquing skills put into practice
Characterization o the author uses different characters with similar backgrounds and characteristics allows for comparisons Most Importantly... Author studies can help students develop a deeper love of reading and writing. When they find an author they identify with or really enjoy, they will be more interested in reading more by that author or authors with similar styles. Author studies can also inspire students to develop their own style of writing. Students can see how one author uses their own interests to develop meaningful pieces. What has this experience done for us as readers? "It has exposed me to uncanny issues of injustice and inhumanity, yet helped me to understand the
necessity of having them woven into print." ~Jackye Morrisey "Having a group to discuss with helped with my comprehension of my own novel and its tough issues. It also increase my understanding of Morrison as an author. I have been inspired to pay careful attention to my own writing and further develop my own writing style." ~Hannah Kestner "Morrison's work as inspired me as a writer to think outside the box. You do not always have to write about what you already know. Morrison discusses how she writes about what she doesn't know in order to find an answer. I tend to usually stay in my confort zone, but after reading several of her pieces, I have discovered that my writing does not have to have limitations." ~Michele Howe "This experience has shown me how powerful a reading group can be when trying to learn about a writer's craft. I will definitely use this with my high school students in the future." ~Jen Currin "Toni Morrison's work reassured me that history is written by those who win. Reading her stories brought many emotions to my heart." ~Laura Graham
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