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Haunting Legacies: Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Contemporary Representations of Slavery (Delve Seminar)

Mon, Jul 25, 2016 from 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm PDT
925 SW Washington Street Portland, OR 97205

Mondays, July 25– August 29, 2016 6:30–8:30 p.m.

Beloved fictionalizes the true story of Margaret Garner, a fugitive, American bondwoman who committed infanticide rather than permit her children’s re-enslavement. Morrison’s version poignantly imagines relationships rent apart or forged by the denial of their participants’ humanity, and explores what it means to be unfree in a country ostensibly built on freedom. Our seminar will consider Beloved’s place in the American literary cannon––what it challenges, builds on, and establishes––and how to read the novel nearly 30 years after its initial publication in light of current conversations about race, citizenship, and gender. Alongside Beloved, we will examine recent works by African American artists that confront and attempt to heal personal and national trauma through imaginative mediums.

Guide: Béalleka is a Kenyan-born, Portland-based writer, storyteller and “recovering academic.” For a decade (as Lynn Makau) she taught African American literature and gender and women’s studies at Colgate University, Michigan State University, and Willamette University. Her scholarly work focuses on intersectional politics and contemporary representations of American slavery in fiction, film and visual media. She is the recipient of two MacArthur Teaching and Research Fellowships, and a publication grant from the American Association of University Women. Her essay on breastfeeding in Beloved as a fugitive act appears in the anthology Victim No More: Women’s Resistance to Law, Culture and Power (2009). The journal Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society (2014) published her account of teaching affective readings of the film Django Unchained. She is currently writing a memoir that explores her healing path, and establishing a business offering cross-cultural competency and life coaching.

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Béalleka is a Kenyan-born, Portland-based public educator and cultural consultant who helps people identify, challenge, and heal from institutional oppression. Her work builds from the premise that recognizing and unlearning divisive social constructs of race, gender, and sexuality­ effectively serves this urgent purpose. For over a decade, Béalleka taught literature and cultural studies specializing in contemporary representations of American slavery at universities across the U.S. She holds a doctorate in postcolonial literature and theory with a certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and is the recipient of two MacArthur Teaching and Research Fellowships and a grant from the American Association of University Women. She leads Delve Readers Seminars for Literary Arts on works by Toni Morrison, Jesmyn Ward and James Baldwin; speaks nationally about intersectionality and unlearning racism; and frequently performs in live storytelling shows. Find more Béalleka at www.unlearningpodcast.com


16/17 SEASON
Haunting Legacies: Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Contemporary Representations of Slavery Seminar Summaries (by Kirstin Fulton)
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