At a special ceremony at Oberlin College, Ohio, on 21 September, RAI Fellow Dr Tessa Roynon was awarded the Toni Morrison Society Prize for her book, Toni Morrison and the Classical Tradition. The award is given for the best single-authored book published during the previous three years on the African-American writer and her work. Dr Roynon delivered the second annual Toni Morrison Society Lecture, entitled 'Voyaging to New Worlds: Toni Morrison's Classicism'. In the lecture Dr Roynon discussed Morrison's influence on younger writers such as the poet Robin Coste Lewis, as well as her inheritance from a range of literary ancestors. Dr Roynon received the Morrison Prize from Professor Carolyn Denard (right), the founding president of the Toni Morrison Society.
Oberlin is a liberal arts college near Cleveland, Ohio, and is attended by around 3000 students. It was founded in 1833 and is famous for being the first college in America to educate women and African Americans, opening its doors to both as early as 1835. It played a key role in the abolition movement and the underground railway. In Morrison's novel Beloved (1987), which is set primarily in post-Civil War Cincinnati, the young protagonist, Denver, is about to begin studying at Oberlin when the novel ends.