Nobel Prize–winning author Toni Morrison discusses a number of the most pressing social issues of our time—including fear, citizenship, race, and belonging—in her 2017 book “The Origin of Others.”

, a book of essays by Nobel Prize–winning author Toni Morrison, will be the subject of the Middlebury College Clifford Symposium September 20–22, and summer reading for the College’s incoming class.

“Morrison’s The Origin of Others provides several powerful starting points for the Middlebury community—staff, faculty, students, administrators, trustees, and alumni—to engage with a number of the most pressing social issues of our time, including fear, citizenship, race, and belonging,” said J Finley, assistant professor of American Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies.

“Her book is not a prescription for problems facing our small community and the world at large, but it does offer a compelling common vocabulary for thinking about questions that emerge from each of its six short, densely-packed chapters,” added Finley. “How, for example, should we address such questions as ‘What is the nature of the Stranger?’ and ‘Why is there such a prevalent capacity to estrange Others—even among us?’”

Along with lectures, performances, and readings, the Clifford Symposium will include a student forum and workshops led by faculty, staff, and alumni. The full schedule of events will be announced in September.

Incoming Middlebury students will receive a link to the book in July in preparation for discussion groups that will be part of their orientation program and for the symposium that will follow.

Published in 2017, The Origin of Others is based on Morrison’s 2016 Norton Lectures at Harvard University. In the text, she draws on her own life and novels, a wide range of American and African literature, and contemporary events.

In addition to Finley, the faculty organizers of the symposium are Larry Yarbrough, Tillinghast Professor of Religion, and Will Nash, professor of American studies and English and American literatures. They are collaborating with colleagues in the Dance, Theatre, Music, Political Science, English and American Literatures, History, and Sociology Departments, and at the New England Review and the Anderson Freeman Resource Center.

The symposium is an annual event named after Nicholas Clifford, who taught history at the College from 1966 to 1993 and who in his many years as a member of the faculty and administration cultivated critical inquiry at Middlebury.