Date of Submission

Spring 2015

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Literature; Human Rights

Project Advisor 1

Nicole Caso

Abstract/Artist's Statement

“The Hands That Build: Collective Mothering and Empowerment in Toni Morrison’s ‘Recitatif’” is a moment of pause between five encounters that take place over the course of the short story. Published in 1983, Morrison’s piece exhibits her early representation of communities as violent in contrast to appeasing aesthetics. Using progressive theories on motherwork, beauty, and non-language this project seeks to explore an alternative version of mothering, rejecting singular and nuclear familial versions of upbringing. Instead, it emphasizes notions of collective mothering and community love. It illustrates the potential of a full and forming definition of mothering that allows the community to take a hand and help uplift the child. The project also employs the work of Hannah Arendt on segregation and education to complicate the responsibility of mothers as parents and the position of children as citizens. Morrison evokes rights language within a literary context, destabilizing the reader and pertaining to a larger audience. Indeed, the text and the project reach out to grasp ideas of community that are pervasive and encompassing, involving and loving.

Open Access Agreement

On-Campus only

Creative Commons License


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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