Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

SU Literary Society Reads The Fine Print

AMY TRUONG • The Spectator

The term “reading for pleasure” is not commonly associated with college-age students.

After various exams, absurd amounts of homework, numerous jobs or internships, and maintaining a social life, this once-common form of rest and relaxation is sometimes treated more as an afterthought than an actual possibility.

Senior creative writing major Katie Gilbert realized this unfortunate fact last winter quarter. Gilbert, who was taking her first English course at Seattle University at the time, was just getting back into books when a friendly conversation with a classmate regarding Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” gave her an idea.

AMY TRUONG • The Spectator
AMY TRUONG•The Spectator

Lit Society’s leading ladies—from left, Katie Gilbert, Devon Simpson, Anina Walas, and Sarah Woodard

“I felt after that conversation that I needed more of [these experiences] and I felt that there wasn’t a spot on campus outside of my English class where I could talk about books with enthusiasm and have this good connection with someone,” said Gilbert.

A week later, Gilbert posted a status on Facebook asking if anyone would be interested in joining a book club. “I got 10 likes within half an hour and got really excited,” she said. “I then got people interested in being leaders and [Literary Society] sort of went from there.”

The initial book club, now referred to as SU Literary Society or Lit Society, formed shortly after that meeting with the initial group—current juniors Annie Gala, Annabelle Axness and Sarah Woodard, along with current senior Lauren Henderson—meeting in study rooms in Lemieux Library to see what people wanted from the club.

“A lot of people said they would like both a place to read and a place to talk about their writing,” Gilbert said.

Since these initial group meetings, Lit Society has hosted bimonthly meetings for their members with the book club and free writes, along with Lit and Film nights that happen about twice per quarter. The group’s Facebook page currently has 104 likes since it was introduced in March, and the page also has a WordPress site featuring its members’ writing.

The club has also gained two advisers since its formation, with help from Dr. Robert Aguirre and from Dr. Bryn Gribben. Gribben first chose to get involved with the Lit Society because of Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of “The Great Gatsby,” which was released in May of 2013. Gala and Gilbert later asked Gribben to continue on with Lit Society as a co-faculty sponsor for the film component. Gribben accepted and noted her appreciation for the club’s sense of building a “casual community.”

“Lit Society is really trying to revive the idea for members of something that’s about balance in your life, rather than being homework, having something that makes you happy,” Gribben said. “I think we shy away from taking on more workload, but there’s such a cliché of, you know, it’s so important to balance your work and your life, and [Lit Society] addresses that in a positive way.”

Aguirre agreed and expressed appreciation for what Gilbert has accomplished thus far with the club.

“Katie and the other leaders are very open to having the group become what the members want it to be,” Aguirre said. “It’s okay to just have [the Lit Society] be fun.”

While these notions are overwhelmingly welcomed by many members of Seattle U, the club has still had trouble growing since its commencement.

“We started with about 15 people coming to meetings, but now there’s a real struggle to getting members, with maybe seven people showing up,” Gilbert said.

Both Aguirre and Gribben noticed this trend as well, but Lit Society is not willing to give up or bend under pressure and are hoping that the club can branch out to include not only English or creative writing majors, but students from every field.

“We need to make sure that we’re recruiting outside of humanities, because I know we have lots of students who are in engineering and sciences, and they just never get to exercise this part of themselves,” Aguirre said. “I bet a lot of them would be really stoked to read a graphic novel or watch a horror movie or talk about psychopaths; it’s just getting the word out, we need to have a better plan for that.”

However, even though numbers may not be as high as some of the other organizations on campus, attendance is not the main priority of the club.

“I wasn’t writing at all for years, but now, with Lit Society, I’m trying to write every day, or at the very least, every other week, and it’s great,” Gilbert said.

“Any success rate would have to do with people continuing to want to read for pleasure,” Gribben said.

The group, which hosted an information night on Tuesday, will host their next meeting on Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. in Pigott 200.

All are welcome.

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