Toni Morrison and the Revolutionary Work of Words

Most readers of Toni Morrison know her best as a novelist. She is the author of 11 extraordinary works of fiction, including the 1987 masterpiece, Beloved, and her work is assigned in high school and college classrooms and debated at book club meetings and academic conferences. She is also, as Angela Davis and Farah Jasmine Griffin noted shortly after her death, a “revolutionary political thinker.” This talk focuses on the political dimensions of Morrison’s writing by asking how her nonfiction helps us to rethink what freedom means in a society that has been defined by racism and sexism from its very beginnings. Reading her essays and speeches reveals how language has been used to enslave and oppress and why the right kinds of word-work might help to set us free.



Lawrie Balfour


Member, School of Social Science