SMU Lit Fest : Then & Now – exhibit at Fondren Library Center through June 9

LitFest Then… And Now Exhibit

Lit Fest: Then and Now exhibitMarch 17 – June 9, 2014
Fondren Library Center Lobby

The first SMU Literary Festival was held in 1975 and for many years thereafter it attracted major stars of the literary world to Dallas.  John Updike, Eudora Welty, Kurt Vonnegut, John Cheever, T.C. Boyle, Louise Erdrich, Joseph Heller and Horton Foote were among the writers who filled McFarlin Auditorium at various times between 1975 and the mid-nineties.  This festival is credited with putting SMU on the literary map for many years.

Jack Myers, SMU Professor and one of the original advisors of the Literary Festival , contributed a fascinating essay describing some of the highlights (and low lights) of these early days.  A few excerpts from this essay are included in the exhibit, along with some of the early LitFest posters, signed by the authors.  This essay can be found in Marshall Terry’s history of SMU “From High on the Hilltop” along with many more personal reminiscences by various SMU faculty and staff members about SMU’s early days.

Students in SMU’s English Dept. were in control of the early LitFests.  Eventually Program Council took over.  The festival was held over 10 days each autumn.  There was much drinking and carousing and some hair-raising moments when advertised speakers cancelled at the last minute or showed up just minutes before they were to go on stage.

A few years ago, a group of industrious Creative Writing students from Professor David Haynes’ classes revived the LitFest in a slightly different format.  It is now focused on novelists and poets who, although  relatively early in their careers, are rising stars with recognition of their talents in the form of prizes, awards and fellowships.  This year’s LitFest authors will read and sign books, meet with creative writing students in workshops, and bring a fresh perspective to Professor Haynes’ creative writing classes during the week of March 18-22.  Go here for information on LitFest authors and activities:  .  All readings are free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase.

This year, the LitFest has teamed with the Writers Garret to add a Local Small Press Fair to the LitFest lineup.   On March 18th, representatives of several local small presses will participate in a panel discussion about the changing world of publishing.  Following the panel discussion will be a reception and readings by several of the participants.

Examples from the exhibit

SMU Literary Festival 1980SMU Literary Festival 1989Lit Fest 1991SMU Literary Festival 1980, program