Unflinching Gaze: Morrison and Faulkner Re-Envisioned

Unflinching Gaze: Morrison and Faulkner Re-Envisioned

Unflinching Gaze: Morrison and Faulkner Re-Envisioned

Unflinching Gaze: Morrison and Faulkner Re-Envisioned

Synopsis

A critical examination of the Faulkner-Morrison literary connection.

Excerpt

Carol A. Kolmerten, Stephen M. Ross, Judith Bryant Wittenberg

The idea for this collection of original essays grew out of a classroom experience when two of us team-taught "Faulkner and Morrison" to undergraduates in the spring of 1991. Our organization of the course was relatively simple: we paired four sets of texts, one by Faulkner and the other by Morrison, and then sat back and let the texts and the students speak to each other. Our readings of both authors were enriched in ways we had not quite expected. Preconceptions-- ours and the students'--began to burst like soap bubbles. the first to go was any naive version of "influence." Quite soon we were reading Faulkner as much through Morrison as we were reading Morrison through Faulkner.

Notions of race and gender were challenged by the course as well. the women's college where we taught had in many ways prepared our students for frank discussions of gender, but nowhere had they (or we) been prepared for the explosive discussions of race that followed our readings of the paired Faulkner and Morrison texts. Students wept openly; one ran out of the room. White students felt threatened; black students felt threatened; we felt threatened; but we kept returning to our discussions from different angles, brought back by Morrison's and Faulkner's own refusal to look away, to let us fall back on easy stereotypes or conventional plot structures. Unsettled, we asked unsettling questions of each other that we had never asked before: can the white members . . .

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