Toni Morrison and Motherhood: A Politics of the Heart

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SUNY Press, 2004 - African American families in literature - 229 pages
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Traces Morrison’s theory of African American mothering as it is articulated in her novels, essays, speeches, and interviews.

Mothering is a central issue for feminist theory, and motherhood is also a persistent presence in the work of Toni Morrison. Examining Morrison’s novels, essays, speeches, and interviews, Andrea O’Reilly illustrates how Morrison builds upon black women’s experiences of and perspectives on motherhood to develop a view of black motherhood that is, in terms of both maternal identity and role, radically different from motherhood as practiced and prescribed in the dominant culture. Motherhood, in Morrison’s view, is fundamentally and profoundly an act of resistance, essential and integral to black women’s fight against racism (and sexism) and their ability to achieve well-being for themselves and their culture. The power of motherhood and the empowerment of mothering are what make possible the better world we seek for ourselves and for our children. This, argues O’Reilly, is Morrison’s maternal theory—a politics of the heart.

 

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Contents

Toni Morrisons Theory of Motherhood as a Site of Power and Motherwork as Concerned with the Empowerment of Children
1
Gender Hegemonies and the Loss of the Ancient Properties The Bluest Eye Sula Tar Baby
47
Slavery Migration and Assimilation Song of Solomon Beloved
73
Deliverance and Exile Song of Solomon Tar Baby
93
Resistance and Power The Bluest Eye Sula Song of Solomon Tar Baby Beloved Paradise
117
Reconciliation and Redemption Jazz Paradise
153
Conclusion
171
Epilogue
175
Notes
181
Works Cited
197
Index
217
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About the author (2004)

Andrea O’Reilly is Associate Professor in the School of Women’s Studies at York University and President of the Association for Research on Mothering. She is the author and editor of several books on mothering, including (with Sharon Abbey) Mothers and Daughters: Connection, Empowerment, and Transformation andMothers and Sons: Feminism, Masculinity, and the Struggle to Raise Our Sons.

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