Villanova University’s 19th Annual Literary Festival Welcomes Renowned Authors to Campus

2017 Literary Festival

Festival lineup includes novelists Brit Bennet, author of The Mothers, and Jennifer Haigh, author of Heat and Light; all events free and open to public


VILLANOVA, Pa. – For the 19th consecutive year, award-winning novelists, poets and playwrights will visit Villanova’s campus during the semester-long Villanova University Literary Festival. The event, which is sponsored by the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will kick off Jan. 31 with a visit from National Book Award finalist James Richardson.

Throughout the spring 2016 semester, prominent writers will present lectures and readings to the Villanova community. All events start at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public. Each presentation will be followed by a reception and book signing.

The following is a full schedule of events:

James Richardson

January 31: James Richardson
Radnor/St. Davids Room, Connelly Center

James Richardson's newest collection, During, published in January 2016, was awarded the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola prize for the best manuscript in progress. His other books include By the Numbers: Poems and Aphorisms, which was a 2010 National Book Award finalist and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010; and Interglacial: New and Selected Poems and Aphorisms, which was a finalist for the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award. He is a professor of creative writing at Princeton University.

Brit Brennett

February 14:  Brit Bennett
Speaker’s Corner, Falvey Library

Brit Bennett is the author of the highly praised debut novel The Mothers. Born and raised in Southern California, Bennett graduated from Stanford University and later earned her MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan, where she won a Hopwood Award in Graduate Short Fiction as well as the 2014 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers. Her work is featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review and Jezebel. She is one of the National Book Foundation’s 2016 5 Under 35 honorees.

Owen McCafferty

March 14:  Owen McCafferty
Presidents’ Lounge, Connelly Center

Owen McCafferty’s most recent play Quietly had its U.S. premiere in New York in July 2016. It was first produced at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in 2012 as part of their Great Irish Writers Season. The play was nominated for Best New Play at the Irish Times Theatre Awards. In 2013 the Abbey Production of Quietly played at the Traverse Theatre during the Edinburgh Festival and was then transferred to the SOHO Theatre, London. McCafferty’s recent play “Death of a Comedian” was a co-production between The Abbey, The Lyric, Belfast and SOHO and was shown in Dublin, Belfast and London. His previous play, “Unfaithful,” was produced at The Traverse Theatre in 2014 to great acclaim and will be produced in London in August 2016 starring Niamh Cusack and Sean Campion. He is the Villanova University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 2017 Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Chair of Irish Studies.

Reginald Dwayne Betts

March 30: Reginald Dwayne Betts
Speaker’s Corner, Falvey Library

Reginald Dwayne Betts is the author of a memoir and two books of poetry. His memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival and Coming of Age in Prison was awarded the 2010 NAACP Image Award for nonfiction. His books of poetry are Shahid Reads His Own Palm and Bastards of the Reagan Era. Betts is a 2010 Soros Justice Fellow, 2011 Radcliffe Fellow and 2012 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellow. In 2012, Betts was appointed to the Coordinating Council of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention by President Obama. He is a graduate of Prince George’s Community College, received a BA from the University of Maryland and an MFA from Warren Wilson College and is currently a student at Yale Law School.

Jennifer Haigh

April 20: Jennifer Haigh
Speaker's Corner, Falvey Library

Jennifer Haigh's newest book, Heat and Light, looks at a community divided by the controversy over fracking. She is the author of the short story collection News from Heaven and four other critically-acclaimed novels: Faith, The Condition, Baker Towers and Mrs. Kimble. Her books have won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction, the Massachusetts Book Award and the PEN/L.L. Winship Award for outstanding book by a New England author, and have been published in sixteen languages. Haigh's short fiction has appeared in numerous publications, including The Atlantic, Granta and The Best American Short Stories. Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, she now lives in Boston.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.

Media Contact

Jennifer Schu

Director of Communications, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences