Conflicts in Comradeship: Critical Responses about the Black Family in Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child

deadline for submissions: 
July 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Rhone Fraser / Howard University and Natalie King-Pedroso/ Florida A&M University
contact email: 

Essay Collection: Toni Morrison's God Help the Child

Conflicts in Comradeship:

Critical Responses about the Black Family in Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child

Co-editors: Rhone Fraser and Natalie King-Pedroso

In her 1981 interview with Charles Ruas, Toni Morrison said, “I remember my parents and my grandparents—I always knew somehow they were comrades. They had something to do together. . . . A woman had a role as important as the man’s and not in any way subservient to his, and he didn’t feel threatened by it.”  Morrison further codifies the significance of elders and their connections to younger members of the community in her landmark essay, “Rootedness: The Ancestor as Foundation,” by indicating those significant cultural residuals found in narratology of the African diaspora, specifically, the writing of African Americans: ancestors, oral tradition, and community.  Black psychologist Kobi Kambon further expounded on matters related to the black family in 1998 when he theorized that the systematic process of cultural miseducation of the African child occurred as a result of “the Black family’s unwitting tendency to willingly submit its children to be . . . culturally victimized by a white supremacist educational system.”  These ideas and others found in earlier works by Morrison resonate in her 2015 novel God Help the Child, her critical response to the challenges encountered by the black family in the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries.  Who is Morrison’s audience, why does she feel compelled to speak now, and how does she use this novel to transmit her message? What is her message; and why does she revisit these concerns regarding family, gender, materialism, relationships, and elders at the advent of the twenty-first century? 

This collection of essays will address these important questions about Morrison’s thoughts on the black family in God Help the Child.  Submissions may mention other novels by Morrison but must include engagement of the black family in God Help the Child.  Proposed topics for the collection may include but are not limited to the following as they relate to the black family in the novel: urban life versus rural life, colorism, elders and ancestors, double consciousness, violence, materialism, parenting, fathers, mothers, siblings, trauma, shame, mass incarceration, ecocriticism, class, oral tradition, identity, gender, history, religion, literacy, intersectionality, folk culture, “Outraged Mother,” and onomastics.

Abstracts due: July 15, 2018

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