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UCLA Marathon Reading 2019

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Powell Library

10740 Dickson Court

Los Angeles, CA 90095

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The UCLA English Department/Friends of English Marathon Reading is an annual event that brings together the department, the campus, and the wider Los Angeles community to celebrate great works of literature spoken aloud.

Hundreds of volunteers take turns, relay-style, to recite an entire novel in a 24-hour stretch. The audience is free to join or leave at any point in the performance.

This year we will work our way through three important texts: Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents.Join us on May 10, 2019 in the Powell Library Courtyard on UCLA’s beautiful campus.

Funds raised for the event go to support scholarship and education in the UCLA English Department. Please consider supporting the Marathon Reading!

The world described in Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower sounds, in many ways, little different from our 2019 reality. Set in the barely-distant 2020s, Butler's novel imagines a Southern California replete with gated communities and privatized schools amidst growing climate disaster. With wealth and resources increasingly concentrated in the hands of the powerful, the rest are ruthlessly policed, over-incarcerated, and left to fight for what little there remains. Such a world feels perilously close at hand; for so many Los Angeles residents relegated to life in ad-hoc encampments under freeway overpasses, on the banks of the L.A. River, and in Skid Row, Earthseed is now. In Butler's sequel, Parable of the Talents, broad societal collapse has licensed the display of overt racism at the highest rungs of political power. As high-tech enslavement and misogynistic violence become normalized, a genocidal Christian fundamentalist presidential candidate runs on a promise to "make America great again." Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale envisions a totalitarian state which has resulted from a coup by fascist Christian zealots who implement a system of state-mandated sexual servitude. The details between the literary worlds of Butler and Atwood may differ, but their visions share a sense that growing inequality and the entrenched military power of the state may sow the seeds of nationalist fervor unafraid of outright displays of misogynist and racist violence. These novels portend cataclysmic futures that have developed from worlds essentially, and increasingly, our own.

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Powell Library

10740 Dickson Court

Los Angeles, CA 90095

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