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In honor of Cornell's sesquicentennial, the English department recognized Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison, M.A. '55, one of its most distinguished alumni, as the subject of the annual Wendy Rosenthal Gellman Lecture on Modern Literature. The lecture was given on March 5, 2015 by noted Morrison scholar Farah Jasmine Griffin.

Griffin is the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American Studies at Columbia University. She also serves as program director for the Schomburg Center's Scholars-in-Residence Program. Her primary interests are in American and African American literature, music, history and politics.

The lecture series was established by a gift from Wendy Rosenthal Gellman '81, who majored in English at Cornell, as an expression of her appreciation to English department faculty for instilling in her a lifelong love of learning and literature.