A Web Case Book on
Toni Morrison

About the Class
slave princess
Title Page || Critical Approaches || Essays || Historical Context || Toni Morrison || Case Book Teams

English 202, Writing About Literature Class

The content of this casebook was developed by Millikin University students from Dr. Carmella Braniger’s “Writing About Literature” class (EN 202). As an entry level class focusing on learning to interact with and write about great works of literature, especially from a critical theoretical perspective, the course offers students the opportunity to integrate theory and practice in real-world writing situations. The class took as its final project an in-depth study of Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved. All students in the class researched, studied and wrote a critical essay about the novel using a theoretical perspectives for interpretation. The head editorial board—Dr. Braniger and senior English literature majors Sarah Corso, Amber McKinney, and Pat Steadman—was responsible for collaborating with the professional web design team, editing submissions selected for publication. The essays chosen for publication in A Web Case Book on BELOVED by Toni Morrison are the very best work by the students in this class.

Dr. Carmella Braniger is a native of Ohio and a graduate of Muskingum College (B.A in English), Johns Hopkins University (M.A. in Creative Writing) and Oklahoma State University (PhD in English).  Her poems have appeared in Sycamore Review, Poems and Plays and in the last two volumes of MARGIE: The American Journal of Poetry.

At Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, she teaches in the English Department and directs the Critical Writing, Reading and Research program.  She is currently collaborating with Dr. Randy Brooks and Dr. Peiling Zhao on a book chapter for a collection entitled Advance(d) Composition.  She resides in Hammond, Illinois with her husband and daughter.


Amber McKinney is a senior English Literature major from Niantic, Illinois.  She is a member of both Phi Theta Kappa and Sigma Tau Delta. Amber plans to pursue a Masters degree in English after graduating from Millikin.

"The process of creating the casebook provided me with valuable editorial experience."


Klay Baynar is a freshman Philosophy major History minor.  He hopes to continue his education in Law School after he graduates.

"This course has challenged me to think abstractly, creating and supporting new ideas regarding literature. Through my reading and study of Beloved, I was opened up to the vast complexities that well written literature has to offer."


Allison Lingren is a senior Vocal Performance major from Pilot Mound, Iowa. She is a member of University Choir and co-student director of Tudor Voices. Allison has appeared in two mainstage operas, as a hormonally driven 14-year old boy and as a floozy in her “well preserved 40s.” She is a member of Sigma Alpha Iota and served on the chapter’s Executive Board. After graduation, she plans on earning a Master’s in Vocal Performance. She would like to express her gratitude to her classmates and professor for not shunning her due to her lack of a major relating to English.

"This class has allowed me to approach literature from a more scholarly, analytical perspective. I hope this will enhance my future literary experiences, as I become more comfortable reading literature, both emotionally and analytically."


Joel Booster hails from Plainfield Ill., a small suburb of Chicago. A Sophomore Theater and Dance major with an English-Writing minor, Joel has indulged in on and off campus activities facilitating both of these areas of study.

Most recently he performed in the Millikin University Mainstage production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and served as a staff writer for the Decaturian. Joel plans to pursue a career that involves (hopefully) both Theater and English after he graduates.

"Throughout this course, I have been challenged to turn the way I think about literature completely upside down. Encouraged by Dr. Braniger and the rest of the class, this course became not only an academic medium, but a creative outlet as well."


Ashley Fromm is a sophomore English-writing major (journalism concentration) with a political science minor.  She is currently the news editor for the Decaturian, the university’s student newspaper.  She is also employed at the PACE office, the university’s adult education program.  Her ultimate goals lie in political magazine editing and traveling. 

"Before working on this casebook, I had never read a novel with a critical perspective in mind. Different elements come to the forefront when you look for a particular perspective as you read, and this close reading helps to solidify potential thesis statements. The casebook assignment and the Writing About Literature class in general have helped me to become a more conscientious reader and writer."


Shelby Larrick is a freshman, communications major from Decatur, IL.  At Millikin, she is involved in University Center Board, and also has a part-time job off campus.  She loves to read and listen to music, and aspires to someday work in public relations or journalism.

"Working on this casebook was both challenging and rewarding. I was forced to examine myself as both a writer and a literary critic. I feel as if my skills have grown immensely, and I am very pleased with my accomplishments. "


Aubrie Cox is an Honors student and English Literature major who lives in Blue Mound, Illinois. She was a student of the Meridian schools from kindergarten until high school graduation.

If she can ever detach herself from her computer, Aubrie plans to be a professor of English. In her spare time, she enjoys the endless possibilities of Adobe Photoshop, her eclectic music collection, and writing on the rare occasion when her muse behaves.

"This was an excellent class and project for an introduction to the scholarly views of literature, especially as a freshman. Both helped build a foundation of basic ideas and perspectives for me to examine literature and support my ideas in future classes."


Gordon Gilmore came to college without a clue as to what he wanted to do with his life. It was a toss up between a bio major and a writing major. Then life steered him in the right direction by giving him a brain injury that made the portion of his brain devoted to English more intelligent (don't ask him how...no idea.) And, now, as you can see, he's following that path given him. For...ta-dah! he has written you a short bio.

"Through taking this class, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a reader and how I view what I’m reading. It turns out that I tend to react to literature through two opposing contexts of literary analysis, and this happened to create issues for me in some regards when trying to understand why they would separate these contexts. This is displayed in my essay through the way in which I try to find bonds between New Criticism and Reader-Response theories."


Born and raised in Augusta GA, Caitlin Hennessy brings a sweet taste of the south to her work. As an English writing major Caitlin plans on pursuing a career as a novelist and hopes to one day teach at a prestigious university. Caitlin is currently a sophomore at Millikin University and hopes to attend graduate school on the east coast. Caitlin is the assistant editor for the arts and entertainment section of the Decaturian. Having preformed at Carnegie Hall, and spending her high school career performing on the stage, Caitlin is not afraid to shine. In her free time, Caitlin enjoys a fine wine, loves to knit and sew, and spend time with her cat Lucy.

"Writing About Literature opened my eyes to a more educated level of approaching a novel. I learned the many different critical approaches to reviewing literature, and how ones goes about reviewing a novel in a critical manner. This class was a giant stepping-stone on my journey to being a well-educated scholar."


Pat Steadman is a senior English Literature major. 

He has served as co-editor of Collage, Millikin’s literary magazine, and editor of The Projector, the English Department’s newsletter. He will be working on obtaining his Masters Degree in English Literature after he graduates in May of 2008.

"This class has re-affirmed my love for Beloved and for literature, in general. The experience has taught me that collaboration from multiple perspectives is the best way to thoroughly understand something."


Giuliana Selvaggio is from Laguna Niguel, California she is a senior here at Millikin University. Her majors are philosophy and political science with an emphasis in international affairs. She has been involved in greek life since her freshman year with Alpha Lambda Delta and the following year Delta Delta Delta she is also part of Pi Sigma Alpha and she is president of Model United Nations. Her extracurricular activates include intramural soccer games, traveling and hanging out with life long friends she has made at Millikin. She is looking forward to law school in the upcoming year.

"This class has taught me a breadth of skills that have been encouraged by Dr. Braniger and the rest of the students. Beloved has been a great novel to learn a variety of literary perspectives."


Sarah Corso is a senior English literature major originally from Litchfield, Illinois.  In addition to being a Writing Center tutor and the secretary of Sigma Tau Delta, she enjoys cooking, playing massively multiplayer online role-playing games (i.e. World of Warcraft), watching television and films, and astounding those around her with her ridiculously extensive knowledge of television and film-related trivia.  She owns so many books that her bookcase actually collapsed under the weight.  After graduating in May, she plans to take a year of peace and quiet to enjoy life before going on to obtain an MA and Ph.D. in literature.

"Through creating the Beloved casebook I have learned how much really goes into the process of editing; the end product is a result of all the ups and downs of a semester long process."


Jessica Wood is a junior from Park Forest, Illinois. She is double majoring with English writing and literature, with a minor in communication.

She is the treasurer of Sigma Tau Delta and the music director at 89.5 WJMU. She loves to read and drink tea, especially apple cinnamon tea. She also loves to eat spaghetti, partially because it is cheap but mostly because it is delicious. Jessica’s favorite book is The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.

She has a tiny kitten named Maybe who has orange and yellow tigress stripes. Jessica finds it very difficult to read, type, sleep, or write without her kitten interrupting, but she doesn’t get mad at Maybe because she loves Maybe more than she loves anyone or anything else.

"Extensive study of Toni Morrison’s Beloved has helped me to grow as a literary critic and scholar."


Kerry Dueker is a junior Creative Writing and Literature major and is also minoring in Gender Studies. She makes less than minimum wage at her job tutoring at the Writing Center in addition to being the assistant online editor for the Decaturian, a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, and a future member of Sigma Tau Delta. She spends entirely too much time on the internet making icons, reading and writing fanfiction, and being obnoxious. She is also perhaps unhealthily obsessed with Veronica Mars, Harry Potter, and the wonderful world of anime. Her favorite authors are Neil Gaiman, David Sedaris, and Gregory Maguire. Her favorite movies are Reefer Madness, The Last Unicorn, Stardust, and The Labyrinth. And finally, she thinks Professor Crowe has the most awesome shoes ever. Because she does.

"Over the course of reading Beloved, I discovered that I in fact do have my limits. I think this is the first book I’ve ever encountered that I would actually put down if I had the option to do so, not because of poor writing, but because of its unbelievably depressing air. Nevertheless, I learned quite a lot from the experience."


Title Page || Critical Approaches || Essays || Historical Context || Toni Morrison || Case Book Teams

© 2007 English Department, Millikin University