On April 21, Geneseo’s Iota Lambda chapter of the English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, inducted eighty-three new members. The half-hour ceremony highlighted accessibility and inclusivity, emphasizing that the honor society serves the entire English Department. Outgoing executive board president Nicole Callahan spoke to the chapter’s increased outreach efforts this year, including offering one-on-one connections to all new students in the department and significantly increasing our social media presence to help people feel connected and to get involved (see https://www.geneseo.edu/english/sigma-tau-delta).
Isabella Higgins discussed Sigma Tau Delta’s support for diversifying the Humanities curriculum, which included a petition recording student support for broadening and breaking from Geneseo’s menu of readings as well as a roundtable presentation at the annual convention where we shared local initiatives and solicited feedback from across the nation. More broadly, Sigma Tau Delta also endorses the Concerned Students Coalition’s List of Demands that would support BIPOC and traditionally underrepresented students on campus (https://speaks.geneseo.edu/?p=155). Beyond campus, our service project this year is to help The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming gather signatures of support for an inclusive community, as Jordyn Costello explained. People living with intellectual and developmental disabilities aare another group that has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic (https://tinyurl.com/yx79rr6z).
Professor Kristen Gentry spoke to this historical moment in a powerful, lyrical address, noting the induction as one of those small celebrations that, quoting Prince, help get us through this thing called Life. April 21 was the fifth anniversary of Prince’s death, a shocking loss that Professor Gentry connected to our traumatic past year of pandemic, racial tension, Black death at the hands of police, and mass shootings across the nation. Words, suggested Professor Gentry, are our solace and strength. Prince called life an “electric word,” and Professor Gentry added that “All words are electric. The words we write have the power to change lives. The way we interpret them has the power to change history. The words we speak have the power to manifest into reality. … Use electric words to make the world a better place than it was before you spoke, wrote, or read them.”
The induction closed with incoming president Georgia VanDerwater asking interested students to volunteer for next year’s e-board (contact Georgia at firstname.lastname@example.org) and with faculty sponsor Dr. Gillian Paku leading the pledge and remarking how the society has rallied in this difficult year around the STD motto: sincerity in our hopes for inclusivity and some necessary truth-speaking, alongside the craft and design of our creative and analytical work. We welcome the following students to the society and look forward to celebrating our chapter’s fiftieth anniversary in 2022:
Dong Won Oh
On Saturday, March 27, five members of the Geneseo chapter of [Sigma Tau Delta](https://www.english.org/) participated in [the annual convention(https://englishconvention.org/2021/) available to all members of the English honor society. Nicole Callahan, Jordyn Costello, Sara Devoe, Isabella Higgins, and Emma Mandella presented a panel titled “Change it Up: Diversifying Humanities” over Zoom. Their presentation discussed the overt lack of representation in most canonical works considered to be a part of the “great books’’ tradition, a list that Geneseo Humanities I and II courses are required to follow. They touched on efforts – including their recent, popular student petition – to alter the Humanities requirement at Geneseo, with the goal of making it a course that includes perspectives and representation of groups outside of the predominant white male norm. Black Humanities was presented as one innovative approach, and the panelists suggested other texts or productive pairings of texts that would meet the goal. A lively question and answer session held after the presentation was attended by students and faculty from around the country and was an illuminating conversation about the benefits and challenges of these efforts, and how they are addressed at our peer institutions. The panelists and audience members agreed that more than finding one answer to this complicated issue, diversifying Humanities requirements should be addressed through a variety of methods.
The format of roundtables only, coordinated via Zoom from Colorado, was a function of the COVID-19 pandemic. It worked surprisingly well, but we look forward to a return to an in-person convention in next year’s location, Atlanta, GA. Geneseo’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter is active all year; new members are inducted each spring, but most activities are open to all members and friends of Geneseo English. For further information about [Sigma Tau Delta at Geneseo](https://www.geneseo.edu/english/sigma-tau-delta), please contact the incoming student president, Georgia VanDerwater, or the faculty sponsor, Dr. Paku.
Ben Michalak Receives Geneseo Community Engagement Ambassadorship
English major Ben Michalak ’21 was selected as one of six students to be awarded Geneseo Ambassadorships this year. His project will involve working with the Main Street Association of nearby Perry, NY to link that community’s history of the arts to present-day artists and economic development initiatives.
During the Fall 2020 semester, Michalak was a TA for Ken Cooper’s OpenValley course that worked with the village to develop an innovative history of the Perry Knitting Company. Besides his research, writing, and digital communications skills, Michalak’s work as marketing director for WGSU helped make this opportunity possible.
Professor Maria Lima (English) leads a virtual discussion of Part II of Ibram X. Kendi’s “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” on Friday, February 5, from 2:30 – 3:30.
For more information or to sign up to participate, please visit here.
This past December, at the annual International Yeats Society Conference in Paris, France, Professor and Chair of English, Rob Doggett, was named general editor of the Journal of International Yeats Studies.
The International Yeats Society is an academic organization that links national and other Yeats societies around the world. Conceived on the 150th anniversary of W. B. Yeats’s birth, International Yeats Studies brings together scholarship from Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa, and addresses Yeats’s place in world literature.
Rob Doggett, Professor and Chair of English, has published “Yeats and Digital Pedagogy” in the journal International Yeats Studies. The essay focuses on a series of digital projects that his students created in the fall of 2018 for his English 425 course, “Editing Yeats.”
Dave Kelly was the Geneseo English Department poet from 1967-2009. This exhibit, which is sponsored by the Genesee Valley Council on the Arts and runs from November 8 to December 3, features works in the visual arts that were inspired by Dave’s poetry. The exhibit is at the New Deal Gallery: 4 Murray Hill Drive, Mt Morris, NY 14510.
A reception, that is open to the public, will be held on Friday, November 15, from 4pm – 7pm. There will be food, drinks, music, and a reading of selected poems, which will begin at 5:30pm.