Adventures in Digital History

Initial Thoughts on Beloved

As we wrap up the first week of classes this semester, I am both excited and a bit apprehensive about the this class and the topics we will be covering. However, this is not a bad thing! I merely say this because I am not an English major and this is only the second English class I’ve taken at UMW. Plus this is a 400-level seminar, which is both exciting and a bit daunting. I have been looking forward to this class, especially since Dr. Whalen is teaching it and all of his classes I have taken so far have been great!

Earlier this week we began discussing some of the books we will be reading this semester, including Toni Morrison’s Beloved. I find the prospect of reading this book interesting because I have never heard of it and also I had never heard of the controversy surrounding it. I never took AP Literature in high school, but I did take the honors equivalent. From what I remember, we read the same novels as the AP Lit classes, including Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I do not recall any controversies surrounding those books either, but I’m a bit of a free spirit who will read just about anything I feel like. That does not mean I am not aware of banned books. I do have a rather strong opinion on the matter, likening it to censorship, and in the case of Beloved, the whitewashing of history and education.

I have glanced at the book so far. I have downloaded it as well as checked out an audiobook version (read by Toni Morrison herself) to listen to on the drive to and from Fredericksburg. I have also looked at a basic summary and know it touches on the issue of slavery and that one of the characters killed their infant child so they would not be sold into slavery. Those are heavy topics, but as a history major I recognize the historical value of telling such a story. Not only that, there is a sort of dramatic, as well as traumatic storytelling aspect. I believe it will put you in that mindset and we will no doubt have strong feelings about that. However, I believe books that elicit such strong responses out of people is what makes it worth reading. I know I am very excited to read it and hear other people’s thoughts on the matter!

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