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College of Arts and Sciences
 Toni Morrison

Open your mind

Events give audience a front row seat to world-changing research and creative works

Arts Unplugged

The College of Arts & Sciences’ Arts Unplugged series brings research and creative works into the public sphere for discussion and inspiration. These outreach events invite a broad audience to explore the work of scholars and faculty from all disciplines, all backgrounds and all time periods and to celebrate the impact that work continues to have on our daily lives.

Cornell Celebrates Toni Morrison

A yearlong series honoring our beloved alumna and literary icon on the 50th anniversary of her first book, "The Bluest Eye"

Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison M.A. '55 will be the focus of a yearlong series of events celebrating her work and her impact.


"The Bluest Eye" reading

Oct. 8, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Hear “The Bluest Eye” read in its entirety by Morrison scholars, authors, poets, celebrities and members of the Cornell and Ithaca communities. Event streams from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., powered by eCornell, and will include memorable photos and archival footage of Morrison. Please note that "The Bluest Eye" will be read in its entirety and does includes racially-charged language and scenes of sexual violence. See this story for a discussion about this issue.

View the complete list of readers     

Toni Morrison Teach-in

Oct. 15, 4:30-6 p.m.

Toni Morrison Teach-In. Listen to Cornell faculty talk about Morrison's work and her impact, then participate in a Live Q&A. Recordings of the faculty talks are available at the links below so you can view them on your own time before the live session. Powered by eCornell. 

 Watch this event

See videos below.

Toni Morrison at 90: A panel of international scholars explores the impacts of Morrison’s scholarly and creative work on the date of her 90th birthday

Feb. 18, 2021, 5 p.m.

Join the discussion as scholars from around the world participate in an online discussion about how Toni Morrison’s scholarship and art have impacted writers, critics and readers and how her work resonates in our present time. Panelists will include: Meredith Gadsby, associate professor of Africana Studies and Comparative American Studies, Oberlin College and Conservatory; Paula Giddings, Elizabeth A. Woodson Professor Emerita of Africana Studies, Smith College; Tayari Jones, author of four novels, including "An American Marriage;" Eleanor Traylor, professor and chair emerita, Department of English, Howard University; and Dominique Bourgois, French publisher. Powered by eCornell.

"The Bluest Eye"

Spring 2021 (date TBA)

“The Bluest Eye” play reading at the Schwartz Center. Listen in as actors take part in a moving reading of Lydia Diamond's adaptation of the Morrison novel.

Teach-in video resources

"Introduction" Carole Boyce Davies, professor, English Department and Africana Studies and Research Center

"Toni Morrison's Place in the Teaching of American Literature" Shirley Samuels, professor, English Department

"Toni Morrison was Beloved in Europe." Anne Adams, professor emerita, Africana Studies and Research Center

"Toni Morrison, the Blues, and Song of Solomon." Derrick Spires, associate professor, English Department

"girl, girl, girlgirlgirl (A reading of Sula)" Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, associate professor, Creative Writing, English Department

"Reading Color and the Cinematic Gaze in The Bluest Eye" Riché Richardson, associate professor, Africana Studies and Research Center

"Toni Morrison at Cornell" Roger Gilbert, professor, English Department

Other activities/events include

  • A new one-credit fall course, English 2602 “The Bluest Eye at 50.” 
  • A virtual book discussion at the Tompkins County Public Library, Oct. 28, 2020.
  • A Toni Morrison exhibit at Olin Library, Spring 2021. This will include book covers of "The Bluest Eye" in 16 languages.
  • A conversation between Cornell Professor Emerita Anne Adams and Ithaca College Associate Professor Nia Nunn about Morrison’s first book ("The Bluest Eye") and her last book ("God Help the Child"), co-sponsored by Cornell University Library and Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca. Date and time TBA
  • Toni Morrison quilting project, with contributions from multiple quilters from across the country. This project will kick off in February 2021. Stay tuned for details about participating.

“Writing is really a way of thinking — not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet.”

– Toni Morrison

"Reading the Writing: A Conversation with Toni Morrison@Cornell University"

'We Do Language': History, Meaning & Language in the Novels of Toni Morrison

Morrison resources

"The Bluest Eye" readers

In order of reading.

  • Toni Morrison, 11:13 a.m.
  • Angela Y. Davis, 11:16 a.m.
  • Hortense Spillers, 11:19 a.m.
  • Vanicléia Silva Santos, 11:28 a.m.
  • Sonia Sanchez, 11:38 a.m.
  • Ray Jayawardhana, 11:42 a.m.
  • Kevin Young, 11:44 a.m.
  • Nia Nunn, 11:52 a.m.
  • Shirley Samuels, 11:54 a.m.
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, 11:58 a.m.
  • Deborah E. McDowell, 12:02 p.m.
  • Farah Jasmine Griffin, 12:07 p.m.
  • Carole Boyce Davies, 12:11 p.m.
  • De'Aysia Barner, 12:16 p.m.
  • Aparna Calambu, 12:16 p.m.
  • Hanna Carney, 12:16 p.m.
  • Erin Chambrone, 12:16 p.m.
  • Catherine Choi, 12:16 p.m.
  • Luis Delgadillo, 12:16 p.m.
  • Nidhi Desai, 12:16 p.m.
  • Mayanka Dhingra, 12:16 p.m.
  • Malick Diomande, 12:16 p.m.
  • Brigitte Fielder, 12:17 p.m.
  • Emily Lordi, 12:21 p.m.
  • Michael Kotlikoff, 12:24 p.m.
  • David Carrasco, 12:28 p.m.
  • Michelle Berry, 12:33 p.m.
  • A.Van Jordan, 12:36 p.m.
  • Alayna Earl, 12:40 p.m.
  • Imani Finkley, 12:40 p.m.
  • Adam Fofana, 12:40 p.m.
  • Anna Goodman, 12:40 p.m.
  • Chris Goranov, 12:40 p.m.
  • Augusta Gordon, 12:40 p.m.
  • Allison Grimsted, 12:40 p.m.
  • Kenneth Harlley, 12:41 p.m.
  • Lexie Hausheer, 12:41 p.m.
  • Joy Hendrix, 12:41 p.m.
  • Flora Hong, 12:41 p.m.
  • Mathew Knowles, 12:42 p.m.
  • Joy Harjo, 12:44 p.m.
  • Emily Fridlund, 12:49 p.m.
  • Nicole Horsley, 12:57 p.m.
  • Koritha Mitchell, 12:59 p.m.
  • Shirley M. Collado, 1:07 p.m.
  • Jazz Ensemble, 1:07 p.m.
  • Patricia Elam Walker, 1:16 p.m.
  • Darlene Taylor, 1:23 p.m.
  • Jennifer Williams, 1:31 p.m.
  • Dana Williams,1:38 p.m.
  • Aaliyah Brown, 1:48 p.m.
  • Sarah Paul, 1:50 p.m.
  • Joseph Nelzy,1:51 p.m.
  • Lassan Bagayoko, 1:52 p.m.
  • Ashley Acosta,1:53 p.m.
  • Nnaemeka Nwankpa, 1:54 p.m.
  • Basirat Owe, 1:55 p.m.
  • Triniti Slaughter, 1:56 p.m.
  • Caroline Johnson, 1:57 p.m.
  • Nia Priest, 1:58 p.m.
  • Meredith Gadsby, 2:00 p.m.
  • GerShun Avilez, 2:06 p.m.
  • Carolyn Denard, 2:14 p.m.
  • Asha Sanaker, 2:18 p.m.
  • Angela Naimou, 2:21 p.m.
  • Dana Luciano, 2:25 p.m.
  • Cherene Sherrard-Johnson, 2:27 p.m.
  • Katrina Huffman, 2:29 p.m.
  • Cassandra Jackson, 2:31 p.m.
  • Piper Williams, 2:32 p.m.
  • Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, 2:35 p.m.
  • Dominique Bourgois, 2:41 p.m.
  • Martha Pollack, 2:44 p.m.
  • Kaitlyn Blake, 2:47 p.m.
  • Alexia Carey, 2:48 p.m.
  • Chelsea Frazier, 2:49 p.m.
  • Janis Mayes, 2:55 p.m.
  • Noliwe Rooks, 3:05 p.m.
  • Sabine Broeck, 3:08 p.m.
  • Anne Adams, 3:11 p.m.
  • Edwidge Danticat, 3:19 p.m.
  • Tayari Jones, 3:28 p.m.
  • Beverly Guy-Sheftall, 3:33 p.m.
  • Catherine Huang, 3:41 p.m.
  • Samantha Kielbania, 3:41 p.m.
  • Emma Leynse, 3:41 p.m.
  • Paola Mendez-Garcia, 3:41 p.m.
  • Ryan Meng-Killeen, 3:41 p.m.
  • Kristen Moore, 3:41 p.m.
  • Rachael Moore, 3:41 p.m.
  • Parker Murphy, 3:41 p.m.
  • Shivank Nayak, 3:41 p.m.
  • Kyla Wazana Tompkins, 3:42 p.m.
  • Derrick Spires, 3:48 p.m.
  • Stephanie Vaughn, 3:55 p.m.
  • Tilka Persaud, 3:56 p.m.
  • Maddy Potter, 3:56 p.m.
  • Samantha Rachmil, 3:56 p.m.
  • Emily Robinson, 3:56 p.m.
  • Alyssa Sandefer, 3:56 p.m.
  • Caroline Schaeffer, 3:56 p.m.
  • Maria Siciliano, 3:56 p.m.
  • Margaret Stovall, 3:56 p.m.
  • Nicole Tan, 3:57 p.m.
  • Joelle Tancredi, 3:57 p.m.
  • Serena Uliano, 3:57 p.m.
  • Catherine Wise, 3:57 p.m.
  • Keshia Abraham, 3:58 p.m.
  • Ernesto Quiñonez, 4:00 p.m.
  • Eric Kofi Acree, 4:03 p.m.
  • Eleanor Traylor, 4:09 p.m.
  • Mukoma wa Ngugi, 4:21 p.m.
  • Roger Gilbert, 4:30 p.m.
  • Toni Morrison, 4:36 p.m.
  • Valorie Thomas, 4:43 p.m.
  • Rev. Nathaniel Wright, 4:50 p.m.
  • Judi Byfield, 4:53 p.m.
  • Cal Walker, 5:05 p.m.
  • Svante Myrick, 5:11 p.m.
  • Ishion Hutchinson, 5:15 p.m.
  • Mary Helen Washington, 5:31 p.m.
  • Tsitsi Jaji and Stephanie Li, 5:42 p.m.

Past events

 Odyssey Ithaca

Odyssey in Ithaca

From tales of sinking ships to murderous fights to bedroom shenanigans, a cast of 75 readers told the story of Homer’s “Odyssey” during a daylong event in Klarman Hall, our inaugural Arts Unplugged event. The reading, spearheaded by Athena Kirk, assistant professor of classics, featured speakers from the community and local colleges, state and local representatives, as well as special audio segments from Annie Lewandowski, senior lecturer in music.

Read more about The Odyssey in Ithaca

 Students at Odyssey Ithaca reading
Students, faculty and staff followed along with the story in books available for borrowing during the event.
 Annie Lewandowski, senior lecturer in music at Odyssey Reading
Annie Lewandowski, senior lecturer in music, played a series of whale sounds during Chapter 12, “Difficult Choices,” which includes a run-in with a group of Sirens.

 Words from a Bear

Words from a Bear

Cornell’s newest film professor, Jeff Palmer, shared advice for creating a Sundance documentary and screened his latest feature film during our second Arts Unplugged event at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. “Words from a Bear,” Palmer’s first feature film, explores the creative works of N. Scott Momaday. Our event also included a talk by Gus Palmer, professor emeritus at the University of Oklahoma, and one of the narrators of the film.

Read more about Words from a Bear

 Palmer giving lecture class in auditorium
Filmmaker Jeff Palmer offered a masterclass on making a Sundance documentary as part of the celebration of his film release on campus.
 Palmer and Bunn holding up plans
Palmer, left, and Austin Bunn, associate professor of performing and media arts, show off Palmer’s early plans for “Words from a Bear.”

 Cornell According to Sound

Cornell According to Sound

Our third event in the series featured a sonic look at campus, brought to us by Chris Hoff ’02 and Sam Harnett, creators of The World According to Sound. The duo spent the fall semester finding and recording sounds across the university – from fish and frogs, to Latin speakers and dirt. Along with four performances at the Schwartz Center, listeners were able to visit five pop-up listening stations across campus to help them become more aware about the role and impact of sound in their lives.

Read more about Cornell According to Sound

 Chris Hoff working with students on recording equipment
During his visit to campus, Chris Hoff ’02, standing, of the World According to Sound, worked with students on recording techniques.
 Installing the phone booth on the quad
Sam Harnett, left and Hoff, right, install sound equipment in a phone booth on the Arts Quad, one of five “listening stations” installed around campus as part of the event