More than 1,400 bibliophiles gathered on campus March 2-4 for LitFest 2017, the College’s second annual literary festival. Aimed at celebrating Amherst’s literary history as well as exceptional writing and writers, the festival included conversations and book signings with 2016 National Book Award fiction finalists Chris Bachelder and Jacqueline Woodson, internationally renowned author Zadie Smith and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Additional activities included master classes, a poetry slam, panel conversations and tours of the Emily Dickinson Museum.
“With this literary festival, we hope to generate an intellectual and aesthetic energy that reminds us all of the invaluable place the humanities and arts have—and must continue to have—in a world we all want to inhabit,” said Professor Martha Umphrey in remarks prior to Zadie Smith’s talk and reading on March 3. “Funding for the humanities, the arts, and more generally for the best of civil public engagement is currently under direct threat,” Umphrey continued, “and so now more than ever we need the voices of artists, in fiction and nonfiction, poetry on the page and in spoken word, and other expressive forms to depict and complicate, reflect and prophesy, revealing and refracting the beauty and ugliness and compromises of our fraught world.”
Here are three snapshots from LitFest 2017.