Nine student members of the IU East chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society, attended the organization’s 2017 International Convention in Louisville from March 29-April 1.
Students attended presentations, readings, workshops, open mics, and other events at the convention. Most of these events offered a display of outstanding student research and creativity from around the United States and abroad, but famous authors such as science fiction writer Jeff Vandermeer were also featured. The very first SigmaCon event was a hit with IU East students who donned costumes as pirates, vampires, and other assorted characters.
Gregg Sells, Sara Baxter, Westley Smith and Coty Barrett gave readings of their poetry during presentations of work accepted for the convention. Sells celebrated his Midwest experiences in a well-received poetry collection titled “Fear and Trembling, Indiana,” and Baxter explored her relationships with her cats and with her mother in another well-received poetry collection titled “She Draws Hearts.” Smith is a returning presenter at the Sigma Tau Delta convention, and some other repeat conference-goers came to his reading just to hear his work again, vividly relating the raw reality of his experiences as a soldier in a collection titled “What the World Doesn’t See: A Soldier’s Life.” Barrett’s readings at the open mic elicited laughter and cheers. Barrett has become known for his ironic persona poems on the IU East campus, and seeing him so well-received off-campus was a delight.
IU East students also presented literary criticism. Stephanie Beckner gave a feminist reading of Jane Eyre in a paper titled “Jane Eyre, Feminist and Trailblazer.” Rebekah LaVere presented a paper titled “Mental Illness and Myth in The Famished Road” in a session on mental health and literature, chaired by Wes Smith. Both sessions elicited intriguing discussions.
Students are beginning to make preparations for the 2018 Sigma Tau Delta in Cincinnati. It is unusual to have back-to-back conventions in the same region, but this will make it easy to travel to next year’s convention as well.
Sigma Tau Delta will hold a membership drive for new members in January. Students with interest in any area of English studies (whether or not they are English majors) are urged to contact IU East’s Sigma Tau Delta President Westley Smith for more information about getting involved this fall. Students who wish to apply for membership should contact Steven Petersheim, assistant professor of English and faculty advisor of Sigma Tau Delta, at email@example.com.