Morrison’s Home and Melville’s Problem

Course Dates: 
8 weeks: March 27, April 3, 10, 17, 24, May 1, 8, 15, 2018
Tuesdays, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Bill Moore
Course Catalogs: 
2018 Spring

We will pursue challenges of inter-racial empathy and the artistic means of gaining empathy, as we read two short narratives: Toni Morrison’s Home, in her attempt to re-create the experiences of a male Korean War veteran, and Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno, a pre-Civil-War fictionalization of an extreme event at the height of the intercontinental slave trade. The two subtle writers set before us unique challenges of language, attitude and empathy that the range of racial attitudes among Melville’s readers (1855-2017) can only suggest. Class time discussions may help us enrich our reading or re-reading experiences and also clarify the knowledge and angles and limits each of us brings. Recommended texts: Home by Toni Morrison, ISBN-13: 978-0307740915; Benito Cereno by Herman Melville, ISBN-13: 978-1536864175, a free online edition is available.

Course outline

Bill Moore ( is professor emeritus of humanities, Austin College, and holds a doctorate from Harvard. He is a teacher of literature (especially medieval and Renaissance), writing and western cultural history who retired to Brevard in 2002.