A Bluest Eye Book Spread

The Significance of The Bluest Eye @ 50.

Welcome to The Bluest Eye @ 50, a digital project dedicated to marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and to contemplate Morrison’s immense artistic impact across various contexts. We examine various aspects of this novel from teaching to performance and more to uncover its manifold contributions to our culture. We also take on this work as a way of offering a new lens through which to view this dynamic novel. The novel itself has had its own compelling journey, ranging from being one of the most-banned books in secondary classrooms to being a game changer in American letters and world literature more broadly. We began the building of this project in 2018, engaging in rich conversations that were inspired by Toni Morrison’s own bold vision of humanity and her innovative approach to art-making. We wanted whatever we offered to be a tribute to her work and life. In the following years, 2019 and 2020, tremendous social upheaval has occurred, making this project more important now than ever. Toni Morrison passed away on August 5, 2019 in what was a blow to the world. We are still comprehending this loss. We are also currently living through a global pandemic and a racial rebellion. It is a precarious time. Amidst this upheaval, we return to Morrison’s work and her brilliant capacity for sense-making of a nonsensical world. May this site and all of this project’s associated work not only be edifying, but also a balm for our times. 

Our initiative has three components:

 

  • A special issue of College Literature honoring the anniversary of the novel’s initial publication with a series of essays, co-edited by Stacie McCormick (TCU) and Rhaisa Williams (Washington University in St. Louis).
  • An October 10, 2020, symposium to launch the special issue, share additional insights from scholars in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and educators who teach Toni Morrison’s works in high school and university classrooms;
  • Ongoing conversations through this website’s discussion boards for educators who would like to share teaching strategies and readers who are engaging with Morrison’s writings.

For more on why the anniversary of The Bluest Eye and the cultural contributions of Toni Morrison are important to celebrate, see also:

 

An LA Review of Books essay by Project Director Stacie McCormick on the relevance of the novel today: ‘What Flowers Are We Watering? On Black Girls and “The Bluest Eye”’s Enduring Resonance’

 

A blogpost by Project team member Sarah Ruffing Robbins on the enduring importance of Toni Morrison: ‘Toni Morrison Can Still Teach Us’

Teaching Toni Morrison and The Bluest Eye: An Open Conversation Jan. 23, 2021. Register here!