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ENGL 3088 Major Authors of Post-1900 Literature


Judith L. Strathearn


Unspeakable Things Unspoken: The Writings of Toni Morrison and William Faulkner places these two authors in conversation with one anther and addresses the ways in which their fictional and discursive practices reflect upon each other. The course will use novels, film, and critical scholarship to discuss their experimentation with style and form. We will also compare and contrast how Morrison – an African American woman from a working class family in the Midwest – and Faulkner – a white, wealthy, Southern born man – articulate issues of sexism, racism, and classism.


  • Compare how Morrison and Faulkner address through various innovative literary forms how literature dramatizes, interrogates, reflects upon and reimagines racism, sexism, and classism.
  • Describe and define the ways Morrison and Faulkner’s writings shape your understanding of race as well as regionality and gender.
  • Explain the uses of memory and how that in turn forms identity within the novels and film.
  • Synthesize and discuss the primary materials as well as supporting scholarship, critical analysis, close reading, and literary terminology.
  • Enhance writing skills through formal and informal writing assignments. Students will work with MLA citation formatting in formal essays that will use textual evidence to support well-constructed argumentative ideas.


Books will be available at the CU Bookstore or you can purchase online. (e-books are fine, if available).

  • Faulkner, William: The Sound and the Fury
  • Faulkner, William: Absalom! Absalom!
  • Faulkner, William: Collected Short Stories of William Faulkner
  • Morrison, Toni: The Bluest Eye
  • Morrison, Toni: Sula
  • Morrison, Toni: Song of Solomon

We will also be watching the film adaptation of Morrison’s Beloved. Additional required readings and supplementary materials will be on D2L in PDF and media forms.


Weekly Discussion Posts (15 weeks; 40 points per week)         600 points
Short Close Reading Papers (5; 20 points each)                       100 points
Final Project (discussion boards and final project)                     175 points
End-of-Semester Meta Commentary                                         25 points

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