Alfred University News

Professor of English Susan Mayberry publishes second book on Nobelist Toni Morrison: "The Critical Life of Toni Morrison"

Alfred University Professor of English Susan Mayberry’s book, The Critical Life of Toni Morrison, was recently published by Camden House.


Alfred University Professor of English Susan Mayberry’s book, The Critical Life of Toni Morrison, was recently published by Camden House. It is Mayberry’s second book on Morrison, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993; Mayberry’s Can’t I Love What I Criticize? The Masculine and Morrison was published in 2007 by The University of Georgia Press.

The Critical Life of Toni Morrison examines the critical and scholarly reception of Morrison since the publication of her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970. As such, the book is a description of the changing literary and cultural landscape of the United States over the past fifty years.

“It’s about the cultural direction—and misdirection—of America,” Mayberry says.

Mayberry joined Alfred University’s then-Division of English and Modern Languages in 1982 after receiving her PhD from the University Tennessee. A Shakespearean scholar by training, she says she wanted to continue teaching African American literature, which she had already begun teaching as a graduate student.

“Black English and white Southern English aren’t all that different. I was a Faulkner fan, and Shakespeare was a natural for me to study; the South is resettled England.”

With two books on Morrison, Mayberry says she currently is working on two separate projects, either of which could evolve into book-length scholarship. The first is a study of prominent women in English theater – “Dames of the English Theater,” she is calling it. She has written two chapters, one on actress Diana Rigg; the other on Judi Dench.

The other possibility is a book on Miley Cyrus as contemporary political and cultural icon. Along with Shakespeare and Black English, Mayberry is a fan of country music.