At the bottom of that second paragraph, Morrison mentions how a "temporal, political, and culturally specific program” can (and by extension, experience, whether that be a middle class, white, and/or male experience, has come to represent what's universal—what everyone understands and recognizes.
Is it universal because it is truly common to all people, or is it universal because these are the books that are celebrated, and taught in schools, and held up as the signs of a good education?
In this light, I’d like to begin with the theme of names and naming in the novel. It seems to me that you're talking about a struggle—the individuality that your first name is supposed to give you but that you didn't get. I shortened my name to Art, a form my older sister and mother have never used and never will. Giselle Anatol: Names and ancestry show your position in a line of people and illustrate the idea of your parents, or whoever names you, wanting to connect you to others; however, you were determined to find your individuality. You were talking about “Dobratz” and how that connects you to a specific cultural and ethnic group. A name like Steinberg is identifiable as a Jewish last name.
There is a tension between belonging to a group and seeking a sense of one’s own self. But you’ve allowed us to weave migratory, national, and ethnic histories in. Participant: I have the same thing, a name connecting to my ethnicity. It was supposedly shortened from the name “Von Rykenberg” when my ancestors came.
Those issues of inclusion and exclusion get brought up numerous times in all of Morrison’s work.
2) African American Vernacular Traditions: oral histories, folktales, songs and ring rhymes, riddles, the dozens (a verbal competition of insults).The next paragraph is when she says, "These spaces, which I'm filling in, and can fill in because they were planned, can conceivably be filled in with other significances.” She's talking about what her intent was and what she was thinking of as she was writing, but also the room and freedom she allows for the reader to move about in the narrative, and think, and ponder, make connections, and draw her own conclusions. Participant: I think it's the opposite of what's happening in .There really is this wide open sense of what individual readers will bring to the narrative. The choices of names speaks to a particular time, but also to social conventions.is very concerned with the loss of these traditions and the desire to bring them back. Think about Ruth’s relationship with Macon, the opportunities available to First Corinthians and Magdalene, Lena’s criticism of Milkman and the privilege that accompanies his “hog’s gut” (215), and Hagar’s relationship with Milkman and how this affects her sense of worth.There are many other examples, of course; these are just a few to get you started. That would include the forced migration of enslaved peoples from Africa to the Americas during the slave trade and also voluntary migration in terms of escapes from slavery and the huge mass of people who moved from the South to northern cities during the Great Migration.She was a Conger-Gabel Teaching Professor from 2001-2004.As I mentioned in the session, the stories that Morrison is telling are not easy stories—she confesses in that 2001 CSPAN interview that she is taking you for a “bumpy ride”: the novels have difficult history and subjects.Blending the past with the present and the future, this bestowing the name of an ancestor or a historically significant name respects and honors the past members of the family but also illustrates the traits, hopes, and dreams that the parents are trying to pass on to the child for the future. But when I got married and went to get my birth certificate, it was spelled Gladdie. There’s your individual family history but also this larger history. Participant: Your name extends your tiny self to larger historical and social forces. I thought the way the name was shortened was interesting. Giselle Anatol: Ethnicity and culture are either explicit or hidden. We'll talk more about that when we discuss this book and about names that are changed as people move through the system.Is there anything else a name can tell us about a person or other ways that names function? Gladys is a very old name, so all the people I know who are named Gladys are either very old or dead. Back in that time, you could change your name to the correct spelling. Giselle Anatol: We observe here how the name Gladys is supposed to mean something specific—a connection to your aunt—as it was transferred to you, but your later reading of the misspelling of it opens it up and explodes it in different ways. Participant: My first name's Linda, which means pretty. The history of my name resonates with a lot of the stories that you are telling.She has published an edited collection Reading Harry Potter: Critical Essays (Praeger, 2003), and numerous articles on representations of motherhood in Caribbean women's writing.Professor Anatol has lectured on the works of Toni Morrison to high school students, junior high and high school teachers, and delivered papers on Morrison's work at academic conferences.