Snatching Liberty: Reading Female Friendship in Toni Morrison with Zoe Tuck

[a 6-week online program via zoom; Saturdays at 12pm EST/9am PDT/5pm GMT+1; begins 5/8]

*Note: Snatching Liberty is Part II of Zoe Tuck’s year-long “Year of Friendship Texts” project — each section of which can be taken independently or as part of your own ongoing engagement**

“Snatching Liberty” is the second course in a year-long planned series on the subject of friendship. Over the course of six weeks, we will read Toni Morrison’s Sula, and selected works of Black Feminist criticism, in order to think about friendship. We will also engage in generative writing exercises, in order to bring our reflections on friendship into our writing practices. This course will also feature a guest visit by a scholar of feminist disability studies and women-of-color feminisms.

Why Friendship?

Since friendship is not romantic love or a traditional family tie or a relationship defined by economic exchange, it occupies a queer and potentially liberatory power in our society. 

Why Sula?

When I was planning my year of reading texts about friendship, I consulted my friends and several recommended Sula, prompting me to delve back into this text. Reading Sula allows us to delve into what it means to think through friendship in fiction and will help us center Blackness in our investigations into friendship.

Although there will be plenty of space to think about gender in friendship beyond the binary, the focus on this course will be on female friendship. In Morrison’s forward to the Vintage edition of Sula, she defines of her primary queries in Sula as being, “What is friendship between women when unmediated by men?” and concludes:

In much literature a woman’s escape from male rule led to regret, misery, if not complete disaster. In Sula I wanted to explore the consequences of what that escape might be, on not only a conventional black society, but on female friendship. In 1969, in Queens, snatching liberty seemed compelling. Some of us thrived; some of us died. All of us had a taste.

As Audre Lorde writes in the lecture notes for her “Black Women’s Poetry Seminar” at the Freie Universität Berlin April – July 1984, “Within each of ourselves there is that which is dark, which is female, which is hidden and has not been allowed. The cultures that we, and most certainly you, have been raised in underline what is white and male.” Lorde associates this hiddenness and forbiddenness with an educational culture of rote learning and passivity, going on to acknowledge that, “It is a hard process yet an absolutely necessary one, to begin to forge the new.” We will learn together, how Morrison forged the new and how we can begin to forge it in our work and our friendships.

Logistics: We will meet once a week for two hours on zoom, with time divided between discussion of the reading and writing exercises in support of the ongoing epistolary project. Recordings of classes and transcripts will be made available to participants. I will also share weekly video lectures and lecture notes. 

The sequence: The classes on friendship in this year-long series are discrete units. Participants need not have taken another of the classes in the sequence. The next class in the sequence, starting after Snatching Liberty ends, will delve into childhood friendships, frenemies, and friendship in translation, via Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, and will begin in July!

What’s the point of reading and thinking deep thoughts while we descend ever deeper into political and ecological chaos?

I believe that dreaming and contemplating in common are the ground for a deeper and more nuanced understanding of existence and that this more nuanced understanding is the ground for meaningful action in the world.


Liminal Lab is committed to providing a source of income for our collaborators and facilitators in an increasingly precarious time for culture workers and educators. However, no one will ever be turned away for lack of fundsWe ask that those who can pay the suggested price, and/or help cover the cost of scholarship slots in each of our programs by sponsoring other participants. 

  • Compare the below to the cost for a similar accredited workshop in a university setting (where most of the $$$ goes to institutional bloat):  $1035  — we show you this so we can begin to think about wtf is happening in our institutions, where both students and faculty get the short end of the stick.
  • At a standard “Market Rate,” at arts orgs: $350*
  • Recommended Sliding Scale: $30-50/session → $180-300 for the series
  • Precarity Pricing: $10-20/session
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