The Washington Literary Society and Debating Union is an organization at the University of Virginia that desires to promote oratory though literary presentations and debates.
The Wash meets Thursdays at 8 P.M. at Jefferson Hall (Hotel C, West Range). A typical meeting will have four to five scheduled literary presentations, followed by presentations from the floor, and one parliamentary debate with four debaters. Free speech is integral to the Society, and as such any member of the audience is allowed to give a literary presentation from the floor. These can be anything, ranging from poems and essays to lectures. Past presentations have included excerpts from Cat’s Cradle and Satin Island, Cortazar’s “Axolotl”, and original short stories – along with Theodore Geisel’s Hop on Pop.
Debates can be serious or humorous, and typically take place after literary presentations. Past debates have included “Resolved: The Doctrine of Nuclear Deterrence is viable in the 21st Century” and “Resolved: Physician Assisted Suicide is unethical”, along with “Resolved: You’re Ford, don’t pardon Nixon” and “Life gives you lemons. Resolved: Make lemonade”. These examples showcase the paradoxical nature of the Wash, but that is what makes it great.