Arts / Faith and Humanities / Campus Community

Signature Event

Written by Mike Thee

January 13, 2014

Pigott building atrium filled with event attendees

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Now a university-wide presentation, the Search for Meaning Book Festival just keeps getting better.

UPDATE, Jan. 21, 2014: All complimentary tickets for the two keynote speakers have been claimed. Tickets are not required for the other sessions.

Tickets are available today for the two highly acclaimed authors who will be keynote speakers at one of preeminent book festivals in the country. Conveniently enough, the event takes place right here at SU.

The 2014 Search for Meaning Book Festival, which takes place Saturday, Feb. 15, will be headlined by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists and accomplished authors Katherine Boo, who wrote the highly acclaimed 2013 book Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity; and Isabel Wilkerson, author of the award-winning The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration.

Attendees must register for the keynote speakers, and if past is prologue, tickets, which are complementary, will go fast. Keynotes have been known to "sell out" weeks before the event. 

Ever since its launch in 2009 by the School of Theology and Ministry, the Search for Meaning Book Festival has been quite a draw. A robust crowd of 400 turned out for that first festival. Since then, attendance has swelled-into the thousands. In recent years, new programming has been added, such as musicians and other artists who provide interactive activities. This year's festival will feature a sacred space walking tour.

"We are pleased that the festival has struck a chord with so many in our region," said President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., "Because of its increasing stature as a signature event for SU, the festival is now being presented on a university-wide basis," adding that the School of Theology and Ministry will continue to play a key role in making the festival happen. 

Katherine Boo and Isabel WilkersonWhile the changes to this year's festival are largely behind the scenes, more discernible differences are in store for the upcoming years. Organizers are hoping to expand the programming to provide an even more textured experience for attendees. In order to do so, a modest fee will be charged starting next year.

Of course the all-star lineup of authors continues and will continue to be the main draw.
Past keynoters have included Sherman Alexie, Mary Oliver, James Martin, S.J., Michael Chabon and Reza Aslan, to say nothing of the 300 other writers and thinkers who have participated.

Of the 56 authors on this year's slate nine are SU faculty and staff members, including Colette Casavant, student community and admissions coordinator in the School of Theology and Ministry; Dan Dombrowski, professor of philosophy; Nalini Iyer, professor of English and director for the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects; Sonora Jha, chair and associate professor of journalism/communication; Rev. Michael Kinnamon, the Spehar-Halligan Visiting Professor of Ecumenical Collaboration in Interreligious Dialogue in the School of Theology and Ministry; Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, associate professor of theology and religious studies; Bill O'Malley, S.J., faculty member in Matteo Ricci College; Rev. Daniel Peterson, instructor in Matteo Ricci College; and Joelle Pretty, director of Premajor Studies and Academic Persistence System.

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