November 03, 2008

Carmen Gillespie, executive director of the Toni Morrison Society.

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LEWISBURG, Pa. -- The Toni Morrison Society, an international author society of the American Literature Association that studies and encourages scholarship on Toni Morrison’s works and their place in art and culture, has moved to Bucknell University, which will host an inaugural celebration of the partnership in the spring of 2009.

Morrison, who is celebrating the publication Nov. 11 of her ninth novel, A Mercy, may join the Toni Morrison Society and Bucknell for the spring inaugural festivities.

“The Bucknell community eagerly welcomes the Toni Morrison Society,” said Carmen Gillespie, the new executive director of the Toni Morrison Society and an associate professor of English at Bucknell. “I am certain our campus will be for the society -- to borrow a quote from Morrison’s essay ‘Home’ -- ‘both snug and wide open. With a doorway never needing to be closed’.”

Founded in 1993
The Toni Morrison Society was founded in 1993 to support the teaching, reading and critical examination of the author’s works. It initiates, sponsors and encourages critical dialogue, scholarship, publications, conferences and other projects devoted to the study of Morrison’s life and works and to the exploration of arenas that are congruent with her intellectual interests and concerns.

“The projects of the Toni Morrison Society are all grounded in Morrison’s affirmation of the deliberate and generative uses of language and it proceeds as an organization to build upon the missions suggested by her writings and inquiries” Gillespie said.

Before moving this summer to Bucknell, the society did not have an institutional home. Bucknell was chosen as the new home for the society because of the University’s reputation as a liberal arts institution, its support of literary creativity and its commitment to the study of the humanities, said society founder, Carolyn Denard, an associate dean at Emory University.

The Toni Morrison Review
At Bucknell, the society will produce the first academic journal devoted exclusively to Morrison scholarship, The Toni Morrison Review. The Toni Morrison Review, to be published by Bucknell University Press, will include the most outstanding academic articles written each year about Toni Morrison’s literature.

Also each year, Bucknell and the society will select and invite a distinguished Morrison scholar to campus to deliver the newly established Toni Morrison Society Lecture.

Bucknell University and the Toni Morrison Society will also sponsor two annual literary prizes: the Toni Morrison Society/Bucknell University Prizes in short fiction and poetry. The winners of these contests will be published in the Toni Morrison Review.

Dancing Mind Challenge
In addition, Bucknell will sponsor an initiative called the Dancing Mind Challenge. Based on Morrison’s reflections in her essay, “The Dancing Mind,” this initiative will invite college and university students from around the country to unplug from electronics and other distractions to spend eight hours alone while reading or writing during the week of Feb. 18, Toni Morrison’s birthday.

Bucknell University will also establish the first resource center for Toni Morrison Studies.

Toni Morrison is currently on an international book tour for her new novel, A Mercy. Morrison’s ninth novel is set in the Northeast in the 17th century, when the slave trade was in its infancy. It provides a detailed look at the social environment of religious persecution, racial hatred and class distinction that allowed the institution of slavery to take root in the United States.

Strokes of history
“As in all of her novels,” according to Toni Morrison Society literature, “Morrison outlines the broad strokes of history in order to explore the impact that they have on the personal choices of the individuals caught in history’s reach.”

In celebration of the novel’s release, the Toni Morrison Society at Bucknell will sponsor a reading group of students, faculty, and staff who will study and discuss the novel.

Morrison received the Pulitzer Prize for one of her best-known novels, Beloved, in 1988. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 and is the only living American Nobel Laureate in literature.

For more information, visit the Toni Morrison Society and the Toni Morrison Society at Bucknell.

Contact: Division of Communications

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