Reading Beloved

Study Day, Saturday 18 January 2020, 2.00-5.30 p.m.

Price: £50.00 / £45.00 students. Tea and coffee provided.
Venue: Stapleford Granary, Bury Road, Stapleford, Cambridge CB22 5BP
Bookings are open.

CAMcard holders can book at the student price. Please bring proof of status to the event. Free place for a teacher bringing 5+ students. Contact us for details:

Join us for an intensive Study Day on Toni Morrison’s great novel, Beloved (1987), a powerful account of the lives of African-American people at the end of the period of slavery.

Bookings can be made on the Stapleford Granary website. If you prefer to book by cheque or PayPal, please email us or use our contact form.

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Beloved (1987)

Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer-winning Beloved is one of the most important American novels of the late twentieth century.

Both deeply moving and technically audacious, Beloved is complex tale of memory and trauma, a postmodern ghost story about the psychological consequences of slavery on a family, a people, and a nation.

Set in 1873 but looking back to the 1850s, Beloved examines the faltering progress of African-Americans’ struggle for emancipation and freedom, and explores how, through narrative, we might reckon with the voices and stories of the dispossessed and ‘disremembered’ of slavery.

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This Study Day will look at Beloved within a number of historical and cultural contexts, exploring both the period in which the novel is set, and the period in which it was written.

We will pay attention to Morrison’s reimagining of the true story of fugitive slave Margaret Garner. We will also explore Morrison’s range of allusions to nineteenth-century American fiction, and to African-American slave narratives and song.

We will read Beloved in its own time as a historical novel of the post-Civil Rights era, and alongside the other works in the trilogy of which Beloved is the first instalment, Jazz (1992) and Paradise (1998).


Kasia Boddy, The Novel as History: Slavery, Memory, Narrative

Michael Kalisch, Beloved in Context: Sources, Reception, Influence

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Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison was born in 1931. She wrote many novels and essays and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. Sadly, she died on 5 August 2019, aged 88. We pay a brief tribute to her here.

About our Lecturers

Kasia Boddy is a Fellow of Fitzwillliam College and a Lecturer in English at the University of Cambridge. She teaches a wide range of literature post-1900, with a particular interest in short fiction and in the American novel. Webpage.

Michael Kalisch is at Downing College, Cambridge. He works on male friendship in contemporary U.S. fiction, focussing on Philip Roth, Paul Auster, Michael Chabon, and Jonathan Lethem.


Toni Morrison’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
Jane Smiley reflects upon Beloved in the Guardian, 8 July 2006.
Review of Toni Morrison’s recent book of essays, Mouth Full of Blood (2019) in the Guardian.
Paul McDonald, Reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved (2013). Useful short study of Beloved.
Podcast discussion of Beloved with author Preti Tanja, May 2019.