College Faculty and Alumni Play a Prominent Role in the 28th Virginia Festival of the Book

Virginia Festival of the Book

After moving to an all-virtual format last year, the Virginia Festival of the Book, a signature program of the Virginia Humanities council and the Virginia Center for the Book, returns this year to celebrate books, reading, literacy and literary culture with a five-day program of both in-person and virtual events beginning on March 16.

As in previous years, Arts & Sciences faculty, staff and alumni are featured prominently in Festival’s program as both authors and moderators, and a chronological list of the College’s participants is included below.

All events are open to the public and free charge. To learn more about Festival programming, visit


March 16

The Inner Work of Racial Justice: A Conversation with Rhonda V. Magee

2-3:00 p.m., virtual

Mindfulness teacher and law professor Rhonda V. Magee (CLAS ‘93), author of The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness, discusses her work exploring the intersections of anti-racist education, social justice and contemplative practices.


Voices of the Civil War Era

2-3:00 p.m., UVA Bookstore

Historians Caroline Janney (History), author of Ends of War; Andrew Lang, author of A Contest of Civilizations; and Jonathan White, author of To Address You as My Friend, join moderator Brian C. Neumann (History) to share their research and writing about the experiences, foundational ideas and letters of the Civil War era.


Lives of the Unfree: Activism and Survival

4-5:00 p.m., UVA Bookstore

In conversation with Laurent Dubois (History), Justene Hill Edwards (History), author of Unfree Markets: The Slaves Economy and the Rise of Capitalism in South Carolina, and Vanessa M. Holden, author of Surviving Southampton: African American Women and Resistance in Nat Turner’s Community, share their new histories offering a fuller picture of the interactions and social relationships of enslaved people as they sought opportunities to survive.


Rooted in the Personal: Poetry by Forrest Gander and Lisa Russ Spaar

7-8:00 p.m., Central Jefferson Madison Regional Library

Poets Forrest Gander, author of Twice Alive, and Lisa Russ Spaar (Creative Writing), author of Madrigalia: New & Selected Poems, read from their most recent collections, explorations of both personal and environmental connections. Gander, who grew up in Virginia, won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for his book Be With. Spaar is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and Rona Jaffe Award, among numerous other honors.


March 17

The Critical Role of Local Journalism

10-11:00 a.m., virtual

Authors and media specialists Christopher Ali (Media Studies), author of Farm Fresh Broadband, and Jennifer Lawless (Politics), author of News Hole, share their work and discuss the many challenges to open access to local news, including struggling newspapers, limited coverage of local government and a widening divide between rural and urban broadband access.


The Wrong End of the Telescope with Rabih Alameddine

12-1:00 p.m., UVA Bookstore

In conversation with Allison Wright (Virginia Quarterly Review), Rabih Alameddine (English), author of The Wrong End of the Telescope, discusses his latest novel about an Arab American trans woman’s journey among Syrian refugees on Lesbos island.


The Emotional Pull of Home

2-3:00 p.m., Central Jefferson Madison Regional Library

Authors Joanna Eleftheriou, author of This Way Back; Henry Hoke, author of Sticker; and Jennifer Niesslein (CLAS ‘94), author of Dreadful Sorry, share their place-centered essays and memoirs, addressing questions of class, history, family, gender and home.


March 18

Fresh Portraits of Indomitable Women

10-11:00 a.m., UVA Bookstore

Hilary Holladay (CLAS ‘83), author of The Power of Adrienne Rich: A Biography, and Andrew Kaufman, author of The Gambler Wife: A True Story of Love, Risk, and the Woman Who Saved Dostoyevsky, investigate the true lives of writers finding a balance between a fierce commitment to their craft and the pulls of life outside of it.


Sowing Care and Justice

12-1:00 p.m., virtual

Co-editors Mai-Linh Hong (GSAS ‘15) and Chrissy Yee Lau and contributor Valerie Soe discuss The Auntie Sewing Squad Guide to Mask Making, Radical Care, and Racial Justice and the work of the Auntie Sewing Squad, a massive mutual-aid network of volunteers who created and distributed free masks to the most vulnerable and most neglected communities across the country. The Auntie Sewing Squad speaks back to the history of exploited immigrant labor as it enacts an intersectional commitment to public health for all, and this collection of essays and ephemera documents their work.


UVA Creative Writing Alumni Reading

12-1:00 p.m., UVA Bookstore

Join graduates of UVA’s Creative Writing Program Anna Caritj (CLAS, ‘12), author Leda and the Swan; David Francis (CLAS, ‘04), translator of Footwork: Selected Poems by Severo Sarduy; and Aimee Seu (GSAS, ‘20), author of Velvet Hounds, as they read from and discuss their writing in conversation with Jeb Livingood (Creative Writing).


Life-Threatening Unknowns and Inequities in American Healthcare

2-3:00 p.m., Jefferson School African American Heritage Center

Drawn from personal experience and research, Taylor Harris, author of This Boy We Made, Anushay Hossain (CLAS ‘02), author of The Pain Gap, and N. West Moss, author of Flesh and Blood, share their individual stories and keen insights into the American healthcare system. Going beyond a retelling of their experiences, these authors explore the assumptions, expectations and fears revealed by modern medicine.


My Monticello with Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

4-5:00 p.m., Jefferson School African American Heritage Center

In conversation with Lisa Woolfork (English), Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, author of My Monticello, discusses her debut book, a collection of short stories including the eponymous novella, exploring burdened inheritances and extraordinary pursuits of belonging.


Speaking through History: Poetry of Persona

4-5:00 p.m., virtual

Poets Annie Kim (CLAS ‘96), author of Eros, Unbroken, and Shara McCallum, author of No Ruined Stone, call on historical personas in their most recent books. They speak through and speak to these figures, engaging their perspectives to better understand a modern predicament.


March 19

Family, Friends & First Love: Young Adult Fiction

12-1:00 p.m., Central Jefferson Madison Regional Library

Amber McBride (English), author of Me (Moth); M.K. England, author of The One True Me and You; and Halli Gomez, author of List of Ten, discuss their young adult novels, highlighting how friends, family and first love help support their protagonists in facing challenges, healing from traumas and embracing their true selves.


Shadows of Grief

12-1:00 p.m., Jefferson School African American Heritage Center

Speaking with Shilpa Davé (Media Studies), Victoria Chang, author of Dear Memory, and Kat Chow, author of Seeing Ghosts, share deep, personal sorrow in their recent memoirs, haunting portraits of grief, remembrance and meaning. Their books offer close examinations of the losses that shaped them, preserved histories that help illumine generational connections, and the emotional significance of memory.


UVA Creative Writing Alumni Reading

12-12:45 p.m., virtual

Jeb Livingood (Creative Writing) joins MFA graduates of UVA’s Creative Writing Program Anna Beecher (GSAS ‘20), author of Here Comes the Miracle, and Emily Temple (GSAS ‘16), author of The Lightness, as they read from and discuss their first novels.


Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace: A Conversation with Michael Krepon

2-3:00 p.m., Irving Theater, CODE Building

In conversation with Todd Sechser (Politics), foreign affairs and policy specialist Michael Krepon, author of Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace, discusses his definitive guide to the history of nuclear arms control, including how the practice was built from scratch, how it was torn down and how it can be rebuilt.


NBF Presents: An Afternoon with the National Book Awards

4-5:00 p.m., Jefferson School African American Heritage Center

The National Book Foundation honors its 2021 National Book Award-honored authors Amber McBride (English) author of Me (Moth) (Finalist, Young People’s Literature) along with Robert Jones, Jr., author of The Prophets (Finalist, Fiction) and Jason Mott, author of Hell of a Book (Winner, Fiction) with a conversation on ancestors, ghosts and community.


March 20

Poetry for Today: Readings by Victoria Chang and Rita Dove

3-4:00 p.m., Jefferson School African American Heritage Center

In partnership with the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, poets Victoria Chang, author of Obit, and Rita Dove (Creative Writing), author of Playlist for the Apocalypse, read from and discuss their recent collections. Chang received the 2021 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Obit, and Dove is a long-time juror for the AWBA, which is the only juried American book prize focusing on works that address racism and diversity.