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Campus welcomes authors for festival

K. Aaron van Oosterhout | Monday, February 9, 2004

Two authors gave voice to their silent texts yesterday at the first sessions of the Notre Dame Literary Festival. The authors, Helena Viramontes and Jim Shepard, read aloud from their works and answered questions from the audience, and four more authors will follow suit the remainder of this week.The 37th annual literary festival runs from Sunday to Thursday, attracting authors such as Chuck Klosterman, senior writer of SPIN magazine, and Jennifer Sands, author of “A Tempered Faith: Rediscovering Hope in the Ashes of Loss.” Other authors will include Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, author of “The Dirty Girls Social Club,” and Frances Sherwood, author of “Vindication.”Michael Subialka, co-chair of the festival alongside Taylor Clary, stressed the differences between the NDLF and other author presentations throughout the year.”The idea is not to have a lecture series,” said Subialka, “but more personalized interaction with authors.”The authors will thus be giving writing workshops, speaking at Theology on Tap and even meeting with students at participating professors’ houses.In order to draw more students to the sessions, the festival has recently undergone a name change, replacing “Sophomore Literary Festival” with the broader “Notre Dame Literary Festival.”At its inception in 1967, according to Subialka, the sophomore class exclusively sponsored the festival, run by then-sophomore J. Richard Rossi. Over the years, however, SLF became a misnomer, as the Student Union Board assumed sponsorship and anyone from any class could participate.”The old name was confusing to a lot of people,” said Subialka. “We felt it was limiting people who wanted to contribute. The name change is important, because [the festival] is sponsored by the entire Notre Dame community.”The festival is the oldest collegiate literary festival in the U.S., according to Subialka, with faculty advisers and committees guiding the student chairs through the nearly year-long process.”It takes a fair amount of time,” said Subialka of his efforts spent as co-chair. He has worked since school started in August, selecting and petitioning authors to visit.With a new name and a new year, the Notre Dame Literary Festival is granting students the privilege to hear the voice behind the type-covered page, a privilege that Subialka said he hopes students grasp.