The Toni Morrison Society, an international literary society dedicated to scholarly research on the works of the Nobel laureate, will now be housed at Oberlin College in Ohio. Since 2010, the society’s offices have been located in Atlanta. Previously, the society was housed at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
The Toni Morrison Society was founded in 1993 at the annual meeting of the American Literature Association in Baltimore. The group was organized by Carolyn Denard, than an associate professor of English at Georgia State University. Professor Denard who is the chair of the society’s board, stated, “We think Oberlin is a perfect home for the Toni Morrison Society. Its distinctive history in the lives of African Americans and women, its commitment to the humanities, its renowned Conservatory of Music, and its place in Toni Morrison’s life and works intersect on so many levels with the society’s mission and programs. We hope that the society’s presence on Oberlin’s campus will complement the really fine work going on here and that it will allow us to expand our reach within the region and internationally. It’s a great move for us, and we are pleased and excited to be joining the Oberlin community.”
In addition to encouraging the scholarly study of Morrison’s works, the society has established the “Bench by the Road Project,” which places memorial markers in important locations in African American history in the United States and abroad. During a visit to Oberlin in 2009, Morrison joined society members in dedicating a bench to the memory of the enslaved men, women, and children who followed the Underground Railroad to Oberlin.
The Bench by the Road Project was inspired by the author’s 1989 statement concerning the commemoration of slaves and their history: “There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath or wall, or park or skyscraper lobby. There’s no 300-foot tower, there’s no small bench by the road.”
Toni Morrison is the author of 10 novels including her latest work, Home, which will be published in May.