UPDATE: The Massachusetts Cultural Council approved the Literary Cultural District on August 19.
Suffolk University is part of a collaborative effort to bring a Literary Cultural District to downtown Boston, and campus sites would be among the district’s more than 80 featured literary and programming venues.
Suffolk’s involvement came about after the GrubStreet creative writing center, which initiated the bid for the Literary Cultural District, asked College of Arts & Sciences Dean Kenneth Greenberg to join its effort. Suffolk is now an executive partner.
Greenberg, convinced of the district’s potential, called together several English Department faculty to help create listings of locations that could be used as potential literary tour sites and to find Suffolk’s place within them.
A Campus Rich in Literary History
The Literary Cultural District would highlight sites such as the Modern Theatre and the Rosalie Stahl Center, which houses the Clark Collection of African American Literature, the Poetry Center, and Salamander, the celebrated literary journal. By showcasing the University and its values, the district could steer an even more diverse population of talented students to Suffolk.
English Professor Gerald Richman, whose knowledge of Boston’s literary history has been invaluable to the project, says that the inclusion of campus buildings could put Suffolk on the map—literally and figuratively.
“It would increase Suffolk’s presence to the public, potentially attracting more students and parents, and also highlight the significance of the University’s location” says Richman.
The Perfect Setting
Beyond the Suffolk campus, Boston’s long and rich literary history makes it the ideal home for what it is believed would be the first Literary Cultural District in the nation.
“Boston is currently undergoing a literary renaissance,” says Larry Lindner, GrubStreet’s Literary Cultural District coordinator. The addition of a Literary Cultural District would help the city be seen as a “mecca for writers.”
Organizers are putting the emphasis less on classic and more on contemporary literature to help build community among Boston’s writers and drive the many cultural activities and events planned for the district, such as mobile app tours, readings, poetry slams, and literary festivals.
The Literary Cultural District won’t leave out young writers and readers. Lindner says that the district would be a great channel to create programming that would improve literacy levels among Boston’s youth and promote interest in and excitement about reading and writing.
But in addition to charming literary arts supporters, a Literary Cultural District would benefit the city itself. The activities and attractions that come with establishing such a district have the potential to fuel tourism, support local businesses, and encourage community partnerships, according to organizers.
Lindner says the district “would bring notice to Boston and lift the economic tide of the city.”
The Final Chapter
The Boston City Council has approved a resolution to form the district. It must be approved by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which funded planning for the project. Now, two years after the concept for the Literary Cultural District was hatched, final voting is slated for August 19. If approved, the Literary Cultural District is set to launch in time for the sixth annual Boston Book Festival in October.
The map above was submitted to the Massachusetts Cultural Council as part of the proposal for a Literary Cultural District.