Teaching the Literature of Toni Morrison the Focus of Princeton Conference

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PRINCETON, NJ. - Award-winning author Toni Morrison offered scholars and fans a rare glimpse into her writing life at a Princeton University conference last month where scholars from around the country gathered for a critical examination of her works

The seminar, "Envisioning Paradise: A Conference on Toni Morrison's Art and Imagination," was sponsored by the Toni Morrison Society and Princeton's Center for African-American Studies. The society was created by scholars who are devoted to the critical study of Morrison's work.

Several scholars talked about the difficulty some people have reading the author's novels.

"Several of us have been talking about the challenge of teaching her work," says Dr. Marilyn Mobley McKenzie, a professor at George Mason University and president of the Morrison Society.

"There's a lot of resistance to herwork."

But McKenzie adds that Morrison creates spaces for the reader, and her writing engenders " a more careful way of reading that has its rewards for the reader."

Others praised Morrison's ability to take on uncomfortable subjects. "She has the ability to look into America's heart of darkness," says Arnold Rampersad, professor of English at Stanford University

Morrison, Princeton's Robert F. …