The Toni Morrison Lectures

The Toni Morrison Lectures are sponsored by the Department of African American Studies and Princeton University Press. The lectures are held annually and spotlight the new and exciting work of scholars and writers who have risen to positions of prominence both in academe and in the broader world of letters.

The lectures are published in book form by Princeton University Press and celebrate the expansive literary imagination, intellectual adventurousness and political insightfulness that characterize the writing of Toni Morrison.

Morrison taught creative writing at Princeton for many years. In 2014 she donated a major portion of her papers to the Princeton University Library. As of spring of 2016, the papers are available for all scholars to visit and study.

2015 - 2016 Lecture

Wole Soyinka presents Commencement Rites at the Tree Creativity

Wole Soyinka has been described as ‘Nigeria’s national conscience.’ He is a professor, activist, playwright, critic, and poet. His work often tells stories of democracy, government, religion, and tensions around tradition and progress. He is concerned with “the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the color of the foot that wears it.” He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1986. Soyinka is the first African laureate.

In introducing Soyinka for the third and final lecture of the series, Professor Wendy Laura Belcher, professor of African American Studies and Comparative Literature stated, “The occasion on which Wole Soyinka, the first black man to win the Nobel Prize in literature speaks in honor of Toni Morrison, the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature is not just a historic moment but a poignant one. Unless the world changes radically, it is highly unlikely that you will ever again be in a room honoring two Nobel Prize winners of African descent. Nor in a room honoring two who are part of the literary sublime, great spirits whose command of language is so extraordinary that inspires not just a kind of ecstasy but a change in the course of history itself.”

 



As It Was in the Beginning

The first talk of three delivered by Wole Soyinka at Princeton University in the spring of 2016 Presenters: Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka and aas21

"Let us consider for instance whether trees should not be held responsible for capital punishment. If they were not around perhaps no one would have conceived of hanging as a way to place human beings permanently out of circulation."Wole Soyinka

Perhaps the most easily apprehended distillation of the affinities we have to trees whether as poet, teacher, activist, ruminant or just plain citizen, plain human being, is that even when ignored, taken for granted, even neglected, trees do transform their environment just like humanity in metamorphose. Like humanity they pass through transformative stages. From seed where they may be tended in a nursery, the very expression that we apply to infants. The young shoot just rub up and eventually through the majestic entity creates its own aura, alone, or with others. Both possibilities can merge into or dominate the environment.



Sweet are the Uses of Diversity

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka and aas21

"That red herring, cultural relativism, is often hooked cynically to the bait of diversity as a cunning device for the attenuation of fundamental human rights. Cultural relativism serves directly as a contrivance of power and dictation against the freedom inherent in genuine diversity."  -Wole Soyinka

Some of our kinfolk here appear to think that in their original home, the time has stood still. Worse, many remain even ignorant of the internal dynamics of society in pre-slavery, pre-colonial times and the diversity of these sociological data that proliferated the entire continent even at the time of the abduction from North to South and East to West.

You do not own other human beings. Society all over the world, in general, has learned that human beings are not bales of cloth, cattle, or even real estate that can be passed from hand to hand at will.

There is no escaping the imperative of choice. Either we exert it or a single-minded, fanatical-minority will exercise that mandate on our behalf and thus deny us our existential will.

Is it really difficult to see that this is what is at the heart of the world’s current dilemma?



In Praise – and Dead – of Trees

The final talk of three delivered by Wole Soyinka at Princeton University in the spring of 2016

Presenters: Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka and aas21

"Take off those tussled, multidisciplinary hats and thrust them, fling them as high as we can. Almost the kind of symbolic expression which is also used in commencement: “The sky is the limit.” You and I know that the sky is not the limit." -Wole Soyinka

When we speak of creativity you and I must continue to understand that we’re not speaking merely of what comes out of words or tunes, notes, music, graphic arts, etc. We’re speaking also of our partners in crime. The sciences, technology, the act of probing apparent reality. The fact of creativity that all of this science or humanities begins with curiosity.

Just as a tree does not make a forest, so does one gender not make humanity. When you compromise or you pander to fragmentary notions like cultural relativism, you are merely opening wide the gates to your own destruction. You have taken the first step, however long it takes, towards yourselves also becoming relative and thus expendable. This is when you wake up to discover that you have become the first line designated victims.

Perhaps it’s about time that we adopted the language of those very enemies of humanity, but this time on behalf of humanity fundamentalism. Yes, perhaps it’s high time we declare ourselves fundamentalists of human liberty.

2014 - 2015 Lecture

Robin D.G. Kelley presents Mike Brown’s Body: Meditations on War, Race and Democracy

The Ferguson protests provide an occasion to meditate on the relationship between war, race, freedom and democracy, especially in light of several events: the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and the 13th amendment; the 100th anniversary of World War I and the U.S. occupation of Haiti; the 50th anniversary of SNCC’s Freedom Summer, the March on Selma and the Voting Rights Act, the assassination of Malcolm X, and the passage of the 1965 Immigration Act; and the latest “Freedom Summer” of 2014, from the #BlackLivesMatter movement and anti-police violence protests to the war on Gaza.  Taken together, these three lectures performs something of a political autopsy on Mike Brown to reveal both the history of the racial regimes that ultimately left him dead in the streets for four and a half hours, but more importantly, reveal the alternative possibilities for creating democracy rooted in freedom, justice, and decolonization.

 



Ending War?: Decolonial Democracy Against Neoliberalism

Presenters: Robin D.G. Kelley

The final lecture circles around 1965 but extends back to Bandung (1955) and decolonization and moves well into the next five decades in order to explain the consolidation of neoliberalism as not just a response to economic crisis but global and national struggles to decolonize, dismantle racism, patriarchy, the rule of capital, and an expanding national security state.  Again, Kelley will discuss both the alternative futures born of this moment, and their defeat.   The so-called Cold War was hardly “cold”: the deployment of U.S. combat operations, state violence, and interventions actually escalated, but the main theaters of war were the Third World and America’s ghettoes and barrios.  The massive expansion of U.S. military and commercial hegemony coincides with successful multiracial struggles for democracy that ultimately achieve the universal franchise for the first time in the U.S.  While this may appear paradoxical, I argue that 1) war (Cold War and Third World insurgencies) helped facilitate these victories since international pressure from Soviet bloc and non-aligned nations questioned American democratic conceits as racism persisted; 2) many if not most multiracial movements to democratize America began in opposition to the expanding national security state and U.S. imperialism (anti-war, free speech, etc.);  3) This “democratic revolution” was very shortlived.  Instead, as we enter the 1970s, movements within the U.S. and abroad faced a massive counterrevolution resulting in debt, destabilization, assassinations, overthrow of democratically elected governments, covert operations, domestic policing and surveillance, prisons, militarization of the Southern border, the dismantling of the welfare state and the social wage; policies of privatization, austerity, outsourcing, displacement, layoffs, union-busting, ad infinitum.  This is the world Mike Brown and the thousands of others who died at the hands of police in the last three decades inherited.

 



Other Brown Bodies: World War on Working Class

Presenters: Robin D.G. Kelley

Kelley continue to examine the struggle between the consolidation and expansion of racial capitalism and empire, on the one hand, and alternative visions of democracy, peace and justice, on the other. Kelley argues that during World War I, this social democratic vision (which found its first expression in abolition democracy) erupted throughout the colonial and semi-colonial world, within and outside U.S. borders, even across Europe.  Its suppression required expansive militarization, intervention and escalation of colonial domination, sophisticated forms of administration, surveillance, and exclusion.  Kelley makes at least three central arguments: 1) that World War I was both a war for colonies and a war on the working class, and that the U.S. opened the real “Western Front” with the occupation of Vera Cruz (1914), Haiti (1915), Dominican Republic (1916), etc.  2) that this moment marked the criminalization of Other Brown bodies–the “immigrant”–which in turn masked the war’s character.  Examining the consequences of immigration policy rooted in race, empire, militarization, and class war, Kelley shows how mass immigration and immiseration are produced and reproduced, how such policies laid the basis for the national security state in the U.S., and generated massive inequality on a world scale.   3) Suggest that this modern racial regime shored up white support for U.S. imperial power and succeeded in defeating the global working-class, foreclosing (yet again) a radically different future.

 



John Brown’s Body: Abolition Democracy Against Perpetual War

Presenters: Robin D.G. Kelley

This talk opens with the killing of Mike Brown and the wave of anti-police protests, and suggests that the struggle for justice for Brown and other victims is not new, nor is it merely a consequence of the militarization of police.  Instead, Brown—like Tanisha Anderson and others—is a casualty of a war originating over 500 years ago, a war to colonize, dispossess, enslave, deny rights of citizenship; a war to decolonize, repossess, emancipate, democratize.  What we’re witnessing, in other words, is part of a much longer struggle not just against enslavement, colonialism, and state violence, but for democracy itself—a struggle on the part of racialized subjects to end racial capitalism’s brutal war, to bring peace and a new democratic, just, order to the world.  In the 19 th century it took the form of what Du Bois called “the abolition democracy.”   Besides re-examining the Dred Scott decision, John Brown’s vision of revolution, and Black people’s struggle to emancipate and democratize the nation, Kelley offers a view of emancipatory futures forecloses—that is to say, the path abolition democracy was creating before being bludgeoned and contained—until its defeat in 1898

2012 - 2013 Lecture

Elizabeth Alexander presents “The Idea of Ancestry” in Contemporary Black Art

Elizabeth Alexander is a poet, essayist, playwright, and teacher. She has published six books of poems: The Venus Hottentot (1990), Body of Life (1996), Antebellum Dream Book (2001), American Sublime (2005)—which was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and was one of the American Library Association’s “Notable Books of the Year;” Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color—her first young adult collection, co-authored with Marilyn Nelson (2008 Connecticut Book Award), and her most recent book Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010 (2010 Paterson Prize for Poetry). Her two collections of essays are The Black Interior (2004) and Power and Possibility (2007), and her play, “Diva Studies,” was produced at the Yale School of Drama. She has also composed words for musical projects with composers Elena Ruehr and Lewis Spratlan. In 2009, she composed and delivered “Praise Song for the Day” for the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Her work echoes the inflections of earlier generations as it foretells new artistic directions for her contemporaries as well as future poets. In several anthologies of American poetry, Alexander’s work concludes the twentieth century, while in others she serves as the inaugural poet for a new generation of twenty-first century voices. Her poems are included in dozens of collections and have been translated into several languages including Spanish, German, Italian, Arabic and Bengali.Professor Alexander is also the first recipient of the Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship for work that “contributes to improving race relations in American society and furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954.” She is the 2007 recipient of the first Jackson Prize for Poetry, awarded by Poets and Writers. Other awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, the George Kent Award (given by Gwendolyn Brooks), and a Guggenheim fellowship. Most recently, Elizabeth Alexander was named an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winner for her lifetime achievement in poetry.

For over twenty years, Elizabeth Alexander has taught and mentored students at many colleges and universities including Haverford College, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, and Smith College. At the University of Chicago, she received the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the oldest and most prestigious teaching award that the University presents. In addition to her work at colleges and universities, Elizabeth Alexander has taught a number of poetry workshops. Most significantly, serving as both faculty and honorary director, Alexander has been an integral member of Cave Canem—an organization dedicated to the development and endurance of African American poetic voices. At her current institutional home, Yale University, Elizabeth Alexander is both the Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of African American Studies and the chair of the African American Studies Department. Alexander was chosen by Yale’s president Richard Levin to deliver the DeVane Lectures in Spring 2012, where she teaches a new course titled “African American Art Today.”

Sponsored jointly by the Center for African American Studies and Princeton University Press, the Toni Morrison Lectures will be held annually and spotlight the new and exciting work of scholars and writers who have risen to positions of prominence both in academe and in the broader world of letters.

The lectures will be published in book form by Princeton University Press and celebrate the expansive literary imagination, intellectual adventurousness and political insightfulness that characterize the writing of Toni Morrison.

The inaugural lectures, “The Gifts of Black Folk in the Age of Terrorism,” were presented by Cornel West, The Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion. The events took place Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20-21, 2006, 7:30-9 p.m. in McCosh 50. Edwidge Danticat, author of Brother, I’m Dying (2008 National Book Critics Circle Award), delivered the second annual lecture titled “ Create Dangerously – The Immigrant Artist at Work” on March 25, 2008 in Richardson Auditorium. In 2009, the honorable Cory Booker presented “The Unfinished Journey of America’s Spirit” on October 1-3, in McCosh Hall, Room 50. Tony award winning choreographer, BIll T. Jones, delivered “The Life Of An Idea: Investigating Belonging, Appropriating And Adapting In The Context Of Time” on April 17, 19, and 24, 2012.

 



“Don’t Forget to Feed the Loas:” Near Ancestry in Contemporary Black Arts

Presenters: Elizabeth Alexander

This talk will focus on the work of recently-deceased Eritrean-American painter Ficre Ghebreyesus and the painterly language of   “near-ancestry” in his and other black diaspora art.   Developing Etheridge Knight’s phrase “the idea of ancestry,” the talk will also look to the dances of Bill T. Jones and the work of Anna Deavere Smith and other art that speaks to intimate proximity to death and the ancestral imperative in black art.



“The Idea of Ancestry” in Contemporary Black Art

Presenters: Elizabeth Alexander

The recent posthumous publication of the collected poems of Lucille Clifton, and the acquisition of her archive by Emory University provide the opportunity to consider the work of this great American poet in its full dimension.    This talk will reframe her ouvre and focus specifically on the philosophical underpinnings of poems that speak across the porous scrim between life and death that is a premised understanding of Clifton’s work.

 

 

2011 - 2012 Lecture

Bill T. Jones presents The Life Of An Idea: Investigating Belonging, Appropriating And Adapting In The Context Of Time

Bill T. Jones (Artistic Director/Co-Founder/Choreographer), a multi-talented artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer, has received major honors ranging from a 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award to Kennedy Center Honors in 2010. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2009 and named “An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure” by the Dance Heritage Coalition in 2000. His ventures into Broadway theater resulted in a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography in the critically acclaimed FELA!, the new musical co-conceived, co-written, directed and choreographed by Mr. Jones. He also earned a 2007 Tony Award for Best Choreography in Spring Awakening as well as an Obie Award for the show’s 2006 off-Broadway run. His choreography for the off-Broadway production of The Seven earned him a 2006 Lucille Lortel Award.

Mr. Jones began his dance training at the State University of New York at Binghamton (SUNY), where he studied classical ballet and modern dance. After living in Amsterdam, Mr. Jones returned to SUNY, where he became co-founder of the American Dance Asylum in 1973. In 1982 he formed the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (then called Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane & Company) with his late partner, Arnie Zane. In 2011, Mr. Jones was named Executive Artistic Director of New York Lives Arts, a new model of artist-led, producing/presenting/touring arts organization unique in the United States that was formed by a merger of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and Dance Theater Workshop.

In addition to creating more than 140 works for his own company, Mr. Jones has received many commissions to create dances for modern and ballet companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Boston Ballet, Lyon Opera Ballet, and Berlin Opera Ballet, among others . In 1995, Mr. Jones directed and performed in a collaborative work with Toni Morrison and Max Roach, Degga , at Alice Tully Hall, commissioned by Lincoln Center’s Serious Fun Festival. His collaboration with Jessye Norman, How! Do! We! Do!, premiered at New York’s City Center in 1999.

His work in dance has been recognized with the 2010 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award; the 2005 Wexner Prize; the 2005 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement; the 2003 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize; and the 1993 Dance Magazine Award. His additional awards include the Harlem Renaissance Award in 2005; the Dorothy B. Chandler Performing Arts Award in 1991; multiple New York Dance and Performance Bessie Awards for his works The Table Project (2001), The Breathing Show (2001), D-Man in the Waters (1989) and the Company’s groundbreaking season at the Joyce Theater (1986). In 1980, 1981 and 1982, Mr. Jones was the recipient of Choreographic Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and in 1979 he was granted the Creative Artists Public Service Award in Choreography.

Mr. Jones was profiled on NBC Nightly News and The Today Show in 2010 and was a guest on the Colbert Report in 2009. Also in 2010, he was featured in HBO’s documentary series MASTERCLASS, which follows notable artists as they mentor aspiring young artists. In 2009, Mr. Jones appeared on one of the final episodes of Bill Moyers Journal, discussing his Lincoln suite of works. He was also one of 22 prominent black Americans featured in the HBO documentary The Black List in 2008. In 2004, ARTE France and Bel Air Media produced Bill T. Jones–Solos , highlighting three of his iconic solos from a cinematic point of view. The making of Still/Here was the subject of a documentary by Bill Moyers and David Grubin entitled Bill T. Jones: Still/Here with Bill Moyers in 1997. Additional television credits include telecasts of his works Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land (1992) and Fever Swamp (1985) on PBS’s “Great Performances” Series.  In 2001, D-Man in the Waters was broadcast on the Emmy-winning documentary Free to Dance.

Bill T. Jones’s interest in new media and digital technology has resulted in collaborations with the team of Paul Kaiser, Shelley Eshkar and Marc Downie, now known as OpenEnded Group. The collaborations include After Ghostcatching – the 10th Anniversary re-imagining of Ghostcatching (2010, SITE Sante Fe Eighth International Biennial); 22(2004, Arizona State University’s Institute for Studies In The Arts and Technology, Tempe, AZ); and Ghostcatching – A Virtual Dance Installation (1999, Cooper Union, New York, NY).

He has received honorary doctorates from Yale University, Art Institute of Chicago, Bard College, Columbia College, Skidmore College, the Juilliard School, Swarthmore College and the State University of New York at Binghamton Distinguished Alumni Award, where he began his dance training with studies in classical ballet and modern dance.

Mr. Jones’s memoir, Last Night on Earth , was published by Pantheon Books in 1995. An in-depth look at the work of Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane can be found in Body Against Body: The Dance and Other Collaborations of Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane , published by Station Hill Press in 1989. Hyperion Books published Dance , a children’s book written by Bill T. Jones and photographer Susan Kuklin in 1998. Mr. Jones contributed to Continuous Replay: The Photography of Arnie Zane , published by MIT Press in 1999.

In addition to his Company and Broadway work, Mr. Jones also choreographed Sir Michael Tippet’s New Year (1990) for Houston Grand Opera and Glyndebourne Festival Opera. His Mother of Three Sons was performed at the Munich Biennale, New York City Opera and the Houston Grand Opera. Mr. Jones also directed Lost in the Stars for the Boston Lyric Opera. Additional theater projects include co-directing Perfect Courage with Rhodessa Jones for Festival 2000 in 1990. In 1994, he directed Derek Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain for The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN.

Sponsored jointly by the Center for African American Studies and Princeton University Press, the Toni Morrison Lectures will be held annually and spotlight the new and exciting work of scholars and writers who have risen to positions of prominence both in academe and in the broader world of letters.

The lectures will be published in book form by Princeton University Press and celebrate the expansive literary imagination, intellectual adventurousness and political insightfulness that characterize the writing of Toni Morrison.

The inaugural lectures, “The Gifts of Black Folk in the Age of Terrorism,” were presented by Cornel West, The Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion. The events took place Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20-21, 2006, 7:30-9 p.m. in McCosh 50. Edwidge Danticat, author of Brother, I’m Dying (2008 National Book Critics Circle Award), delivered the second annual lecture titled “ Create Dangerously – The Immigrant Artist at Work” on March 25, 2008 in Richardson Auditorium. In 2009, the Honorable Cory Booker presented “The Unfinished Journey of America’s Spirit” on October 1-3, in McCosh Hall, Room 50.

 



With Time

Presenters: Bill T. Jones

This final lecture will inevitably deal with the passage of time and the transition in Jones’s thinking about art-making. He will also take up the constant fight for relevance, inspiration, and the tenacity necessary to sustain a creative life – a life he calls “participation in the world of ideas.”



Story/Time

Presenters: Bill T. Jones

A reading of 60 stories, each one minute long. This will be a solo version of the group dance-theater work of the same title Jones is created for his company that premiered at Peak Performances at Montclair State University (NJ) in January 2012. The stories –aphoristic, informal, ambiguous in their meaning and often intensely personal – offer a reluctant self-portrait. Jones will be accompanied by composer Ted Coffey who will contribute the results of his own investigation and responses to the John Cage idiom.



Past Time

Presenters: Bill T. Jones

Jones’s ruminations on the moment when he entered the conversation about creative practice, aesthetic hierarchy, history, and the modernist project from the point of view of dance (or, more precisely, body-based movement investigation). John Cage’s thoughts and philosophy on the subject of composition as reported in his book Silence will figure prominently here. The dislocation and discomfort Jones experienced when attempting to fit in his paradigm will be discussed in ways analytical and anecdotal. Questions of identity, aesthetic value, and criticism will also be explored.

2008 - 2009 Lecture

Cory Booker presents The Unfinished Journey of America’s Spirit

A native of northern New Jersey, Cory Booker’s passion for politics and justice was instilled at an early age by a family committed to change. His parents successfully fought against racial discrimination and shattered corporate ceilings, inspiring him to pursue a life of breaking barriers and working for change. On May 9, 2006, Cory Booker was elected Mayor of Newark, with a landslide victory in the Newark Mayoral race.

While a varsity football player and class president at Stanford University, Booker ran a local crisis hotline and organized programs for city youth in East Palo Alto, California. As a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Booker made headlines through his friendship with then-Lubavitcher Rabbi Schmuley Boteach. Their friendship, and Booker’s leadership of the L’Chaim Society, was a powerful example of Booker’s strong belief in the strength of diversity and the tremendous possibilities that result when people move beyond simple racial, ethnic and religious tolerance.

During his first election, Booker rose to prominence by upsetting a four-term incumbent to become councilman. He knocked on tens of thousands of doors, inspiring over a thousand previously discouraged voters to turn out for the first time.

Booker lives his politics, often in unconventional and creative ways. In the summer of 1999, he went on a 10-day hunger strike in one of the most drug-infested housing complexes in Newark, an effort that resulted in increased police presence and improved security for residents. For five months in 2000, Booker took to the streets; he lived in a motor home and parked it on the worst drug corners in the city, inspiring residents and businesses to fight against drug dealing and crime. For this, TIME magazine called him “The Savior of Newark,” and he proved to the city and the nation that he is dedicated to fighting inner-city problems.

As Newark’s Central Ward councilman, Booker introduced dozens of pieces of legislation and resolutions that have impacted housing, youth, safety, jobs and created better government. He has earned a reputation as a leader with innovative ideas and a willingness to take bold actions. From increased security in public housing to new playgrounds, his initiatives are changing lives.

Booker was an All-American football player and excelled in sports throughout his academic career. He ran a mentoring program for low-income youth while studying history in Oxford, England. While earning his law degree at Yale University, he co-founded and ran legal clinics to help low-income residents of New Haven. He is currently the director of Newark Now, a grassroots nonprofit group, a partner at a Newark law firm and a senior fellow at the Rutger’s School of Public Policy and Planning.

Sponsored jointly by the Center for African American Studies and Princeton University Press, the Toni Morrison Lectures spotlight the new and exciting work of scholars and writers who have risen to positions of prominence both in academe and in the broader world of letters.

The lectures will be published in book form by Princeton University Press and celebrate the expansive literary imagination, intellectual adventurousness and political insightfulness that characterize the writing of Toni Morrison.



The Future: Humble Hopes and Insane Idealism

Cory Booker presents The Unfinished Journey of America’s Spirit



The Present: Through Cynicism, Negativity and Self-Doubt

Cory Booker presents The Unfinished Journey of America’s Spirit.



The Past: A Testimony to the Impossible

Cory Booker presents The Unfinished Journey of America’s Spirit.

2007 - 2018 Lecture

Edwidge Danticat presents Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work

Presenters: 

Edwidge Danticat

“In the new beginning was The Word.
And The Word was with Mother and Father.
And The Word was absence…”

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Born in Haiti during the brutal Duvalier dictatorship, Edwidge Danticat – whose parents moved to the United States when she was a child, leaving her in the care of relatives – discovered The Word at the foot of family storytellers and in the books of French language writers.  As a child, she watched that mixed literary heritage upset as well as comfort her neighbors and countrymen.  The staging of an Albert Camus play following a political murder was one of its most striking examples.

Inspired by Camus’ landmark essay “Create Dangerously” and his definition of art as “a revolt against everything fleeting and unfinished in the world,” Danticat’s lecture will focus on her experiences, and the experiences of other immigrant artists, living and working – culturally, linguistically and politically – between several sometimes violent and unfriendly worlds.

Sponsored jointly by the Department of African American Studies and Princeton University Press, the Toni Morrison Lectures spotlight the new and exciting work of scholars and writers who have risen to positions of prominence both in academe and in the broader world of letters.

The lectures are published in book form by Princeton University Press and celebrate the expansive literary imagination, intellectual adventurousness and political insightfulness that characterize the writing of Toni Morrison.

 

2006 - 2007 Lecture

Cornel West presents The Gifts of Black Folk in the Age of Terrorism

The annual Toni Morrison Lecture series was launched October, 20–21, 2006 with two inaugural lectures, titled “The Gifts of Black Folk in the Age of Terrorism”, was presented by Cornel West, the Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion.



The Gifts of Black Folk in the Age of Terrorism: Part II


The Past: A Testimony to the Impossible