Toni Morrison speaking at Cornell
Open your mind

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

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 at 90

Feb. 18, 2021

A colloquium featuring a panel of international Morrison scholars will coincide with Toni Morrison's 90th birthday. Participants will discuss Morrison's literary legacy and her scholarly work. This event will also be livestreamed and powered by eCornell. Watch this event now!

Encore presentation of “The Bluest Eye” reading

Feb. 19, 11 a.m. to roughly 6 p.m., online powered by eCornell

Click here to view a complete list of readers.

"The Pieces I Am" Screening and talkback

Feb. 15-20, talkback at 4 p.m. Feb. 20

View the documentary of Morrison's life free on demand, then join us for a talkback. View the talkback on Facebook here.

Celebrating Toni Morrison: A Community Book Reading & Conversation

Zoom event March 15, 2021 at 7 p.m.

Coordinated by the John Henrik Clarke Africana Library at Cornell University, Black Girl Alchemists at Southside Community Center, and Buffalo Street Books. We’ll be reading the first and last books in Morrison’s canon, “The Bluest Eye” and “God Help the Child.” Limited copies of both titles will be made available free to community members. Register here!

Past event: "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.

Click here to view a complete list of readers.

Past event: 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.

Other activities/events include

Teach-in video resources

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

Past Events

Past Events

Poster for 'Odyssey in Ithaca' event

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 the 'Odyssey in Ithaca' reading
Students, faculty and staff followed along with the story in books available for borrowing during the event.
Faculty at the Odyssey in IThaca 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.
Poster for N. Scott Momaday: 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

A lecture by filmmaker Jeffrey Palmer at the "Words from a Bear" film screening
Filmmaker Jeff Palmer offered a masterclass on making a Sundance documentary as part of the celebration of his film release on campus.
Fillmmaker Jeffrey Palmer, left, and Austin Bunn, associate professor of performing and media arts, show off Palmer’s early plans for “Words from a Bear.”
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 event poster

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

During his visit to campus, Chris Hoff ’02, standing, of the World According to Sound, worked with students on recording techniques.
During his visit to campus, Chris Hoff ’02, standing, of the World According to Sound, worked with students on recording techniques.
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
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
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