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English Honor Society Hosts Student Conference

Indrani Mitra, Ph.D.
Chair, English Department

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The Mount St. Mary’s University chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society, hosted a regional undergraduate conference for the first time on Saturday, September 21. Student scholars and creative writers from Delaware State University, the College of New Jersey, Shepherd University, Towson University, and as far afield as Nova Southern University in Florida joined their compatriots at the Mount for a day of scholarly exchange and fellowship. This all-day event had all the excitement and energy of a professional academic meeting as scholars and audience members rushed from one session to the next.

sigma-text.jpgDrawing inspiration from award-winning contemporary poet Tess Taylor’s collection Work and Days, itself an homage to the classical writer Hesiod, the conference was built around the theme “work of the artist.” In different ways, scholars spoke of how art and the artist touch our human lives: the 19th century women writers who continue to inspire women in the 21st century; the black scholar whose work and struggles touch the classical hero myth; artists’ efforts to make sense of trauma and healing, good and evil, as well as divisions and cohesions in our human society. “Presenting my work to others was exhilarating, and the conference as a whole was a testament to the diligence and stimulating intellectual activity happening at the Mount,” reflected Mount student Ian Schirra, C ’21.

In his welcome remarks at lunch, Peter Dorsey, Ph.D., dean of the College of Liberal Arts, recalled the story of how Tolstoy’s epic novel Anna Karenina kept future president Teddy Roosevelt company as he chased thieves through the Dakota Territory.  In an inspiring keynote address, Associate Professor Sean Lewis, Ph.D., brought together Hesiod and Tess Taylor to show how the goals of physical and spiritual sustenance, through working the land and writing poetry, belong together in one artistic continuum. As gracious hosts, as scholars and creative writers, and as enthusiastic audience members, Mount students were at their best, calling to mind the good work of the liberal arts.

Sigma Tau Delta, founded in 1924 to honor academic achievement in English literary studies and creative writing, currently has 875 chapters worldwide, with approximately 9,000 new members inducted each year. The society provides the opportunity for members to publish in their critical and creative writing journals, to present at regional and national conferences, and to participate in internships. The Mount chapter was formed in 2015; Professor Jack Dudley is the current moderator.

Indrani Mitra, Ph.D.
Chair, English Department