Major Authors: Melville and Morrison

Cartoon of woman next to a lynched man, by Laurence Foy.

Cartoon showing anguished woman kneeling next to the body of a lynched man, by Laurence Foy. (Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. Forms part of: Visual Materials from the NAACP Records. Cartoon Drawings, 1920-1930. Contributor: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)


MIT Course Number

21L.705 / WGS.512

As Taught In

Fall 2003



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

This seminar provides intensive study of texts by two American authors (Herman Melville, 1819-1891, and Toni Morrison, 1931-) who, using lyrical, radically innovative prose, explore in different ways epic notions of American identity. Focusing on Melville's Typee (1846), Moby-Dick (1851), and The Confidence-Man (1857) and Morrison's Sula (1973), Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992), and Paradise (1998), the class will address their common concerns with issues of gender, race, language, and nationhood. Be prepared to read deeply (i.e. a small number of texts with considerable care), to draw on a variety of sources in different media, and to employ them in creative research, writing, and multimedia projects.

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Related Content

Wyn Kelley. 21L.705 Major Authors: Melville and Morrison. Fall 2003. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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