Salvage the Bones book cover


Welcome to our critical case book on Jesmyn Ward's novel Salvage the Bones. This casebook was crafted by Millikin University students enrolled in Dr. Tony R. Magagna's English 202: Writing About Literature course during the Fall 2015 semester. Although Salvage the Bones has garnered critical acclaim since its publication in 2011—including the National Book Award that year—there has as of yet been little published literary scholarship dedicated to the novel. Thus, the students whose work is collected here have put together this casebook as an effort both to build the scholarly conversation on the novel, and to showcase their own original critical contributions to the field of literary scholarship. By exploring this website, we hope that you will learn more about this incredible novel and the varied perspectives and themes that it confronts.

In addition to the in-depth academic analyses presented here, you will also find contextual information that we feel is useful to understanding and appreciating Ward's work. This includes: biographical information on Ward herself; an overview of historical, regional, and cultural contexts that define the world of the novel (in the section on "Esch's World"); synopses on key characters and episodes; and broader context on the events of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. In addition, you will find here links to useful resources elsewhere on the Internet, including interviews, reviews, and media clips.

All of the information and scholarship presented in this casebook has been selected and generated by the English 202 students themselves. Salvage the Bones: A Critical Casebook joins several other casebooks produced by students in Millikin University's English department. In 2014, Dr. Magagna's students explored Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs, while in 2013 they took on Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad. Additionally, Dr. Magagna's students have studied Gregory Maguire's Wicked (2011), Marjane Satrapi's graphic memoir Persepolis (2010), and Junot Díaz's novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2009). Other courses at Millikin have examined Toni Morrison's Beloved, Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, and Helena Maria Viramontes' Under the Feet of Jesus.