November 12, 2010

Jazz notes in Paris on Toni Morrison

Gary Motley

Dwight Andrews

A recent meeting in Paris of the Toni Morrison Society has Emory links.

Dwight Andrews and Gary Motley were the featured performers in a jazz presentation during the Toni Morrison Society's Sixth Biennial Conference on Nov. 6, at the American Church in Paris.

Carolyn Denard, associate dean in Emory College of Arts and Sciences, was the founding organizer of the society in 1993. She is board chair of the Toni Morrison Society, an official author society of the American Literature Association.

Among its activities, the society holds a series of biennial conferences in locations that have significance in Morrison's life. This year's explored how jazz can best represent the conference theme "Toni Morrison and Circuits of the Imagination." It was also the first held outside of the U.S.

"Because jazz has such an important place in Morrison's own imagination as a novelist, we have had a jazz component to our conferences since they began in Atlanta in 1998. We want our conference participants to appreciate the connections between jazz and Morrison's work in the context of an actual performance," says Denard.'

"With the historical and musical expertise of Dwight Andrews and Gary Motley, we can present a program that explores the connection between jazz and Morrison's works, and between jazz and the art of the diaspora in a deeper and more deliberate way than we have before," she adds.

Joining Andrews and Motley at the Paris conference were Keme Hawkins, an Emory student writing his doctoral dissertation on jazz and literature, and Michael Clanahan, an undergraduate in the Jazz Studies Program.

Their participation was supported by a grant from the Halle Institute for Global Learning, Emory College, the Laney Graduate School, the Emory Alumni Association, and the Race and Difference Initiative at Emory.

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