2023 L.A. Times Festival of Books at USC

Attendees share what they’re reading at last year’s festival. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)


Trojans to look for at this weekend’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC

Wallis Annenberg Hall and USC Stage to feature faculty and students during two-day event on University Park Campus.

April 17, 2024 By Greg Hernandez

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books returns to USC’s University Park Campus this Saturday and Sunday with an array of literary stars participating in panels, conversations and signings. The festival will also offer many celebrity-focused events featuring RuPaul, George Stephanopoulos, Mark Harmon, Lauren Graham, Kerry Washington, Henry Winkler and Tamron Hall, among others.

Festival of Books info boxThe weekend provides host USC — a major sponsor — with an opportunity to showcase some of the university’s most accomplished and acclaimed faculty and staff through a series of USC Presents: Ideas in Action panels inside Wallis Annenberg Hall. Meanwhile, student Trojans will be providing live musical entertainment outdoors at USC Stage.

“The thing that I love about the USC panels is that they explore such a wide range of issues, ideas and topics that are relevant and timely,” said USC Visions and Voices Executive Director Daria Yudacufski, who organizes USC’s programming at the festival. “They really highlight the incredible work that’s happening at USC. I feel like there’s something for everyone.”

L.A. Times Festival of Books: Try to plan ahead

About 150,000 people are expected to attend the 29th annual Festival of Books, which has become the nation’s largest literary and cultural festival.

Whether you are a festival veteran or will be going for the first time, advanced planning is recommended to fully take advantage of the more than 200 conversations, performances, book signings, cooking demos, poetry readings and more that the weekend offers. There will also be hundreds of organizations, literary vendors and publishers with booths to visit.

“Part of the excitement of the festival is just the ability to be in that space and to feel the energy of all of the people and community coming together,” Yudacufski said. “Just walk around and take it all in.”

The neighborhood will also be extra busy, with the annual USC spring football game taking place next door at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with kickoff at noon Saturday.

Yudacufski said the “first step” for anyone planning to attend is downloading the L.A. Times Festival of Books app or visiting the event website for more details. General admission to the festival grounds is free, but many of the indoor conversation panels require tickets that can be ordered in advance and may include a reservation fee.

“There’s so much really fantastic programming, so take some time to explore the schedule,” Yudacufski said. “Figure out your must-sees are and make sure you get to those conversations. Beyond that, there’s a lot that you might just stumble upon on the outdoor stages as you walk through campus.”

Saturday’s offerings: Politics, media and theater 

On Saturday, USC experts on electoral politics, political strategy, economic development and immigration will take part in “The 2024 Election — Politics, Media and Culture” panel moderated by USC Distinguished Professor of Sociology Manuel Pastor, director of the USC Equity Research Institute. Four USC professors will have a wide-ranging discussion with Pastor on the 2024 election and the systems that influence and inform voter beliefs and engagement.

Other Saturday panels featuring USC professors are “Screen Time: Television, Society, and Identity,” exploring the role of television in society through representations of race, class and gender and “Setting the Scene for Change: The Future of Theatre,” where panelists will share their perspectives on acting, scenic design and playwriting. The panel will also discuss diversity in theater, theatrical institutions and possibilities for a more equitable and inclusive theater community.

Sunday offerings at the L.A. Times Festival of Books

Sunday’s USC lineup kicks off with the session “Living Long & Living Well: Longevity Today.” A panel of authors and USC professors who are experts on aging will look at the challenges and gifts of living long from legal, health and practical perspectives. Panelists will also share practical advice on preparing for a safe and healthy old age.

That afternoon, a session titled “Placemaking and the Politics of Land” will feature a panel exploring how labor, race, gender and sustainability relate to placemaking, the process of transforming public spaces to strengthen their connections to the people who use them.

Also happening Sunday is “Dis…Miss Gender? Artists and Writers on Gender Today,” a panel on intersectionality, queer thought, fourth-wave feminism and more featuring Anne Bray, editor of the new book Dis…Miss Gender? and several of the book’s contributors.

Wrapping up the weekend will be “Creating New Futures through the Arts,” a discussion among authors, artists and activists. They will share how film, music, public art and other art practices can help build communities.

Trojan musical talent at the L.A. Times Festival of Books

The USC Trojan Marching Band will kick things off both mornings of the festival. The band will be followed on Saturday by USC doctoral student YAF, who fuses jazz, R&B and funk; the band My Betsy; the student-run mariachi ensemble Los Troyanos de USC Mariachi; singer-songwriter Sofia Gomez; the band GRL (Girls Rock Live); and singer Adeline Jean.

Sunday’s musical lineup includes singer-songwriter Liz Becker; pop-rock sensation Aminta Skye; Peruvian musician Alejandro Aramburu, who will be backed by a band of students from the USC Thornton School of Music; singer-songwriter Luna Day; and the band Desk Lamp, whose members met while attending USC Thornton.

Almost all of the musical acts chosen to perform on USC Stage are students from USC Thornton and span a range of musical genres.

“We got so many submissions,” Yudacufski said. “It’s so cool to see how talented our students are.”