"What Moves at the Margin": Toni Morrison's Publics
Newberry Cultural Series
When we think of the "humanities," we tend to think of (wo)man's determination to study the laws of nature and to establish civil and religious systems that govern the universe. But Toni Morrison's work as a public intellectual (through her novels and beyond) gains it significance in no small part from the ways she consistently challenged traditional understandings and interpretations of the humanities as paradoxically universal and exclusive. Significantly, she rejects "the West" as the point of departure and the point of reference for the study of the laws and nature and humans' relation one to another and to society. This talk will examine select Morrison's essays to articulate the philosophical impulses that inform her aesthetic, especially in relation to her understanding of the diminishing returns of exclusivity, in an effort to reorient our ways of reading, knowing, and being to create an alternative oasis of inclusivity.
Dana A. Williams is Interim Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of African American Literature at Howard University. A specialist in contemporary African American literature, Dr. Williams earned her BA in English from Grambling State University and her MA and PhD from Howard University. As a recipient of a Ford Foundation postdoctoral fellowship, she was a visiting research fellow at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Before assuming the chairmanship of the Department of English at Howard in 2009, she was an inaugural faculty fellow at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University in 2008-09.In 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Williams to serve as a member of the National Humanities Council. Williams, who has served as president of the College Language Association—the oldest and largest professional organization for faculty of color who teach languages and literatures—is the author and editor of six book and more than 30 articles and has been the principal investigator of numerous humanities grants.
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM Eastern
DACOR Bacon House 1801 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20006 UNITED STATES