Loving Beloved

10 October 2021
By Nancy Withbroe '90
Book cover: Beloved, by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison’s masterpiece novel Beloved was published near the beginning of my time at Carleton. It was taught in several classes, so I read and re-read it under the guidance of several professors in the English, women’s studies, and maybe even the religion department. It was a tale that fascinated and horrified me, that challenged my notions of race and gender, violence and trauma, motherhood and community, that taught me new ways of conceptualizing faith, ministry, and care. Carleton’s community created spaces for me to grapple with this book that haunted and inspired me, encouraging me to be in conversation with the text and about the text, again and again, exploring meaning and creating meaning together.

I’ve gone on to spend my career in the nonprofit sector, focusing on gender and racial justice, and have been called again and again to explore story, ritual, and faith as means to understand multi-generational harm, my complicity as a cisgender straight white woman, and our collective pathways to healing and justice. This text and the teaching and learning of it throughout my Carleton years was formative and foundational for me.