The English Department will be hosting the UCLA marathon reading for the first time since 2005. The organizers of the 2017 incarnation of the event chose to open up the choice of novel to a public vote, in order to rebuild interest in this once annual event. We have since received an outpouring of support for the event as a whole, and the choice of novels in particular. This year, we are happy to reintroduce the marathon reading with Toni Morrison’s canonical, fascinating and multivalent novel, Beloved. Novels chosen for the marathon reading must be just the right length to sustain a marathon, they must have gripping plots, in order to hold the audience’s attention, and finally, they must be texts still compelling and relevant no matter when they were originally written. Toni Morrison’s Beloved runs for approximately twelve hours when read out loud, which makes it perfect for a reading that begins in the morning and stretches into the night. Beloved possesses a narrative architecture that is typical of a ghost story: a gripping form that ensures the text would be perfect for reading aloud. Finally, Morrison’s Beloved gives us a substantive map of the Black American slave subjectivity, which was missing from the American literary canon. Morrison has written that her goal in the novel was to construct the inner lives of slaves, who experienced an inner life, but did not write it. Beloved is thus not only deeply relevant to the current bout of racial upheaval we are experiencing as a nation, but a necessary text in the canon.
T-shirts featuring this year’s design will be available at the event, along with bake sale items and raffle tickets. While we cannot accept cash donations at the event, we will have several tablets so that you will be able to donate online. Should you wish to donate in advance of the event, you can do so here and simply bring your receipt to the event.
Suggested donation amounts:
$20: one Beloved t-shirt and three raffle tickets
$15: one Beloved t-shirt
$9: two baked goods and three raffle tickets
$2: one baked good
$2: one raffle ticket
Graduate students, please sign up to help us with event logistics! Volunteer opportunities listed here.
Highlights from the event schedule:
- LisaGay Hamilton, actress, who played Young Sethe in the 1998 film adaptation of Beloved. Hamilton will read at 9:30 a.m. to kick off the event. Website: lisagayhamilton.com
- David Kipen, journalist and former literature director of the National Endowment for the Arts. Kipen will be reading at noon. Website: librosschmibros.org/who-we-are/
- Kristina Wong, comedian, performance artist, and UCLA English alumna. Wong will read around 8:15 p.m. Website: kristinawong.com
- Film screenings
- Bake sale
- Raffle (prizes include gift cards to Westwood restaurants and cafes, including a year of free coffee!)
- And more!