About the Archive’s Blackburn Literary Festival
Every year, the Archive Literary Festival brings nationally acclaimed authors to Duke University and hosts local writers and faculty members for public readings. With past speakers including Bernard Malamud, Richard Eberhart, James Wright, W.D. Snodgrass, Toni Morrison, John Updike, Elizabeth Bishop, Joseph Heller, and Eudora Welty, the Festival has succeeded in bringing a myriad of talents to the University. More recently, such acclaimed poets, novelists, and essayists as Colum McCann, Jonathon Safran Foer, Michael Ondaatje, Sharon Olds, Joyce Carol Oates, Ron Hansen, W.S. Merwin, Don DeLillo, Michael Cunningham, Margaret Atwood, and Alice Walker have read excerpts from their work for Duke students and members of the community. As its history suggests, the Archive Literary Festival is Duke’s premier forum for the celebration of all types of literature.
The Archive Literary Festival is designed to foster and encourage appreciation and discussion of literature in its many forms and functions. The Festival serves as a forum for discussion and appreciation of different modalities of literary expression amongst Duke students and faculty and the local community.
The Archive’s Blackburn Literary Festival at Duke University has a rich and distinguished history. Established in 1959 by Professor William Blackburn, the Festival began as a series of student-run literary gatherings aimed at making literature more accessible to Duke students. The Festival was originally named after The Archive, Duke’s literary magazine (the second-oldest such publication in the country), and, in its first year, hosted writers William Styron and Randall Jarrell. In honor of its founding professor, the festival changed its name 1969, remaining The Blackburn Literary Festival through 2005, when it readopted its original title. Today, the Archive Festival tradition continues, sharing and cultivating a passion for literature throughout the entire Duke community.