KU News Release


Feb. 11, 2011
Contact: Giselle Anatol, Department of English, 785-864-2530

KU to celebrate author Toni Morrison’s 80th birthday with read-a-thon

More Information

LAWRENCE — Faculty and students at the University of Kansas and members of the Lawrence community are planning to celebrate the 80th birthday of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison with a 24-hour read-a-thon of her work.

Giselle Anatol, associate professor of English, is signing up readers for the event that will take place in Anschutz Library, located behind Budig Hall, beginning at noon Thursday, Feb. 17, and concluding at noon Friday, Feb. 18 — Morrison’s actual birthday. The read-a-thon will end with the serving of birthday cake.

“Participants can be professors, staff, graduate students, undergraduates or community members — anyone who has an interest in the writing, either academic or personal,” Anatol said.

Night owls are needed to fill the early morning slots. Readers are scheduled for 15- to 20-minute blocks of time, and spaces are available for spur-of-the-moment volunteers.

Because “The Bluest Eye” can be read in its entirety in less than 24 hours, Anatol is setting aside time for readings of each of Morrison’s other major novels, and volunteers will be able to select a favorite passage or read from suggested excerpts.

Anyone interested in reading should contact Anatol at ganatol@ku.edu or 785-864-2530.

Two community members who have already signed up to read are both employed at Lawrence Public Library: William Ottens and Kelly Fann.

Faculty from the English department scheduled to read include Iris Fischer, associate professor; Doreen Fowler, professor; Mary Klayder, lecturer; Anna Neill, associate professor; and Elizabeth Schultz, professor emeritus. Ray Pence, lecturer in American studies, and DaMaris Hill, a graduate student in American studies, are also planning to read.

KU’s Department of English has sponsored similar events recruiting people from the campus and Lawrence community for round-the-clock readings of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” and James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”

Anatol recalled those read-a-thons as she was teaching a class on Morrison last year.

“I realized that the writer would be celebrating her 80th birthday this year,” she said. “I wanted to commemorate the event in some way, and in a very public way, since Morrison is so passionate about bringing her work to the people.”

Morrison is the Robert F. Goheen Professor Emeritus in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University. Her major novels include: “Sula” (1973), “Song of Solomon” (1977), “Beloved” (1987); “Jazz” (1992); “Paradise” (1998), “Love” (2003) and “A Mercy” (2009).

One of the most celebrated contemporary American novelists, Morrison has received national and international acclaim for her powerful work, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for “Beloved” and the Nobel Prize in literature in 1993. Her fiction is described as evoking the legacies of displacement and slavery bequeathed to the African-American community.


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