Toni Morrison and Mothers/Motherhood

morrison FINAL cover5

Price: $34.95

Page Count: 286

Publication Date: July 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77258-104-1

This collection of essays explores the gamut of Toni Morrison’s novels from her earliest to her most recent. Each of the essays examines the various ways in which Morrison’s work delineates and interrogates Western culture’s ideological norms of mothers, motherhood, and mothering. The essays consider Morrison’s female, and in some cases male, characters as challenging the concept that mothering and motherhood is a stable notion. The essays reveal both that mothering is a central concept in Morrison’s work and that an examination of this pervasive notion illuminates her corpus as a whole. Toni Morrison on Mothers and Motherhood offers a wide range of scholarship that provides a compelling look at Morrison’s work through an array of interdisciplinary approaches that are grounded in feminist/gender studies. This interdisciplinary collection of essays will be of interest to scholars and critics concerned with the notions of how we define mother/motherhood/mothering and the problem of its interpretation within Western society, as well as those engaged in the interpretation of African-American literature, and Morrison’s work in particular.

“The essays in Toni Morrison on Mothers and Motherhood explore Morrison’s complex and nuanced treatment of mothering. The collection strongly enriches the scholarship on Morrison Studies, providing original insights into her earlier work and, importantly, illuminating her recent novels, such as
Home and God Help the Child.”
—ANISSA JANINE WARDI, Professor of English, Chatham University, author of Water and African American Memory: An Ecocritical Perspective

“This collection on Toni Morrison’s oeuvre reshapes definitions of mothering in her novels and expands our working knowledge of families under intersectional pressures, both in the works and in the world. Fans and critics of Morrison, as well as motherhood and family scholars, particularly those interested in the practice of othermothering, will find this book enlightening. Explored are non-normative ‘mothers,’ oppressions that enable the conditions of ‘bad’ mothering, and the effects of absent/poor mothering on children. These essays are essential reading for those interested in mothering and Morrison.”
—NICOLE L. WILLEY, Professor of English, Kent State University Tuscarawas

Toni Morrison on Mothers and Motherhood

Table of Contents


Martha Satz and Lee Baxter


Masculine Othermothering in Toni Morrison’s Home
Susan Neal Mayberry

“Not a Maternal Drudge … Nor … An Acid-Tongued Shrew”:
The Complexity of Ruth and Pilate in
Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon
Jill Goad

“You’ve Already Got What You Need, Sugar”:
Southern and Maternal Identity
in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon
Anna Hinton


Studies in M(othering):
Unpacking the “Wicked Thing” in Toni Morrison’s
A Mercy and Beloved
Veena Deo

Rethinking, Rewriting Self and Other
in Toni Morrison’s Love
Lee Baxter

The Trauma of Second Birth:
Double Consciousness, Rupture, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved
Lauren A. Mitchell

“Are You Sure She Was Your Sister?”
Sororal Love and Maternal Failure in Toni Morrison’s Paradise
Kristin M. Distel

From Sweetness to Toya Graham:
Intersectionality and the (Im)Possibilities of Maternal Ethics
Jesse A. Goldberg

Racialized Intimacies and Alternative Kinship Relations:
Toni Morrison’s Home
Rosanne Kennedy


Failed Mothers and the Black Girl-Child Victim of Incestuous
Rape in The Bluest Eye and Push
Candice Pipes

Mothering Oneself in Sula
Marth Satz

Black Motherhood, Beauty, and Soul Murder-Wound
Althea Tait

“They Took My Milk”:
The Multiple Meanings of Breastmilk in
Toni Morrison’s Beloved
Barbara Mattar

Brother-Mother and Othermothers:
Healing the Body of Physical, Psychological, and Emotional
Trauma in Toni Morrison’s Home
Tosha K. Sampson-Choma

About the Contributors

Lee Baxter is an independent scholar with her M.A. in Gender Studies and a Ph.D. (A.B.D) in Gothic and Horror Literature and Film Studies. Broadly, her research concerns the representation of wounded bodies and psyches in literature and film.

Martha Satz, Assistant Professor of English at Southern Methodist University, holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas in humanities and an A.B.D. in philosophy from Brown University. She has published widely on such diverse topics as Jane Austen, Richard Wright, Ann Petry, children’s literature, and genetics and the disability community. She teaches courses on minority literature, African- American women writers, and African-American literature. The adoptive mother of two bi-racial children (African American and white), now adults, she has written frequently about this experience.