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Department’s Marathon Reading marches on to 9th year

By Aviva Altmann

May 13, 2004 9:00 p.m.

Wind rustles gently through the blossoming trees in the Rolfe
Sculpture Garden as undergraduates, graduates, alumni and
professors congregate and listen to people taking turns reading
George Eliot’s “Middlemarch” aloud.

This warm community is officially called the Marathon Reading,
an endeavor organized by the UCLA Department of English.

Now in its ninth year, the event, hosted by a committee of
approximately 10 graduate students, aims to raise money to fund
academic fellowships for students in the English department.

For 26 hours, from noon Thursday until 2 p.m. today, students,
faculty, staff, celebrities and high school students read the
chosen book aloud.

Participation has been particularly active this year, as reading
slots Thursday were completely filled from noon until 7 p.m. The
group estimated having over 200 readers.

“There has been a very enthusiastic response from a number
of stage and film actors (this year),” said Jon Naito, a
graduate student and coordinator of the marathon.

Celebrity guests include various stars of theater and television
from all over the world, such as David Birney, Sheelagh Cullen,
Charles Davis and Joe Herold, to name a few.

Fund raising has been promising, drawing in over $7,000 before
the actual marathon. Money also continues to come in during the
marathon through donations, as well as book and T-shirt sales.

An e-mail vote among graduate students prompted the committee to
choose the book “Middlemarch,” a time-honored piece of

Since the group hadn’t chosen a work by a female author
since 2001, choosing this book was something that “needed to
be done,” said Heather Wozniak, a graduate student in English
and Marathon Reading Committee member.

The committee has been planning the reading since fall quarter,
with intensifying commitment and execution in the past two

Reading will conclude this afternoon, finishing with two
academic panels discussing issues of feminism, medicine,
transcendentalism, gender and class inspired by the novel.

These discussions will be led and moderated by UCLA students, as
well as Professors Elizabeth McClure, from the University of
Maryland, College Park, Mary Bell, from the University of Arizona,
and Lauren Smith, from the University of Miami.

Some undergraduate student readers participated because of
encouragement from Naito, who teaches sections of English 4HW.
Yasmin Krishnamurthy, one of his students who participated,
admitted not having read Eliot’s work, “but now I want

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Aviva Altmann
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