Explore the intricacies of Toni Morrison's short story "Recitatif" with Dr. Ian Afflerbach. As the nation's most distinguished African-American author, Morrison has won the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, and National Book Award for her novels--and yet during her 50 year career, she has only written one short story.
"Recitatif" examines the lives of two women--one white, one black--as they grow from childhood to maturity. But here's the catch: Morrison refuses to tell us which woman is black and which is white. Her story, as we'll discuss, offers a thought-experiment about how we as readers "see" race, how we come to associate certain races with social, economic, or cultural behaviors (from food preferences to music to religion). In this way, Morrison's story gives us an ideal platform to think about "racialization," that is, about how our very notions of "race" are socially constructed. Complimentary copies of this story are available at the front desk of your library.
This program is part of a series on African American history for adults sponsored by the FCPL Friends & Advocates.
About Dr. Ian Afflerbach
Dr. Ian Afflerbach is an Assistant Professor of American Literature at the University of North Georgia, where he teaches and researches in 20th century American literature, political history, African-American studies, and the history of ideas. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis, and has lived in Montreal, Vermont, North Carolina, and Germany. His writing has appeared in journals like English Literary History, Modern Fiction Studies, and Studies in the Novel. He has been named a 2019 Fellow by the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies in Mainz, Germany.