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A Confederacy of Dunces

First-Year Summer Reading Program

For the First-Year Summer Reading Program, a cross-college group of faculty has selected John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, A Confederacy of Dunces. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the book’s publication. All incoming freshmen will receive a hardcover copy of the book along with a Reader’s Guide. On August 27 at 1:30 p.m., all freshmen will participate in faculty-led discussions of the book; Lucky Dogs (a.k.a Paradise Vendors) will also be served on campus!

On August 23 at 3:30 p.m. parents are invited to discuss the book with Dr. Marcus Smith, Emeritus Professor of English. Dr. Smith will recall the strange, singular afternoon when Toole’s formidable mother, Thelma, appeared in his office door holding the manuscript of A Confederacy of Dunces and demanded to see Dr. Walker Percy. Other “Confederacy” events will be held throughout the year.

The setting of the book and its rich array of local character types and dialects makes it an excellent introduction to New Orleans. It invites readers to laugh, but it also engages serious themes of widespread racial and economic dysfunction - issues that are central to Loyola's mission of social justice. The book is also a great choice because Walker Percy, who wrote the book’s introduction and was instrumental in seeing the book through publication, taught in our very own English Department. And this year, the memory and contributions of Percy inspired the launching of Loyola’s Walker Percy Center for Writing and Publishing.

Loyola dedicates the First-Year Summer Reading Program to the late Professor Brian Bromberger, Dean of the College of Law, whose sudden death earlier this year was a great loss to the Loyola community. The purchase of the books was made possible by a generous donation from the College of Law under Dean Bromberger's leadership.

Join the discussion of the book on facebook!

Schedule of events:

Check back for more events and updated information.