“My dad has run this conference for 31 years. I was five years old when it started. My entire life I have been brought up to hear these writers … there is no question to me that what people write can change the world. We have an obligation to be part of that,” said Sarah Vause, an English professor at Weber State University.

Weber State University will host the National Undergraduate Literature Conference, or NULC, March 31 through April 2.

Sarah Vause said, “We will have roughly 150 undergraduate students from all over the United States come to Weber State University to present their original work.”

This is the only literature conference for undergraduates in the country.

NULC has been held at WSU for the past 31 years and has hosted nationally-known authors from Ray Bradbury to Kurt Vonnegut.

This year’s event will feature Douglas Blackmon and Kay Ryan who are both Pulitzer Prize winning authors.

The featured authors will speak about topics including current social issues.

While speaking of Blackmon’s research of slavery, Sarah Vause said, “Currently, we have huge issues with race in our country. That was an issue at the beginning of our country and we’re still talking about it. I think that Blackmon offers some really important insights as to why we’re in the situation we are in today based on the past.”

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NULC’s beginnings offered a unique opportunity for undergraduate students that weren’t previously possible.

Dr. Mikel Vause started the conference with the intention of seeing how “Our students stacked up against other college students.”

The conference began as a statewide event for undergraduates. Mikel Vause said, “Right after we announced it, then Idaho wanted to be part of it. Then, it became a Western conference. Then, it became national. It went from being just in Utah to being a national conference in about 20 minutes.”

The three-day event is full of free activities open to the public including a screening of the PBS documentary based off Blackmon’s book, “Slavery by Another Name.”

Dr. Jan Hamer, adviser to Weber’s literary magazine “Metaphor,” is overseeing the open mic night held during the conference.

“The open mic is a social opportunity to get together with the people that come in and give them a chance to share their work in an informal setting,” she said.

Participation at the open mic night is not essential for attendance. Anyone can come and listen.

“You get to hear work that is really experimental … It’s a very informal setting. You get a performance atmosphere too. It’s not just reading it off the page, it comes to life when the writer gets a chance to speak it,” Hamer said.

English classes held in Elizabeth Hall will be cancelled on Friday so that conference attendees can hold sessions in those respective classrooms.

The open mic session will be held Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. on the second floor of the Good Company Theatre, located at 260 Historic 25th Street in Ogden.

All other activities, times and locations for the conference can be found on WSU’s website.

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