Bellevue Literary Review held a symposium called “Can Storytelling Prevent Gun Violence?” Professor Rachel Hall, alum Monica Wendel and Gandy Dancer contributor Edward Supranowicz have work online in conjunction with the symposium.
English department announces 2022 student awards
We’re excited to announce our 2022 scholarship and senior award winners, as well as the winners of our 2022 writing contest.
It’s been an especially challenging couple of years, so the perseverance of these students—maintaining a love for learning even in difficult circumstances—has been a great example to the departmental faculty.
2022 Scholarship awards
Scholarships for the 2022-23 academic year have been awarded to the following students.
Bonnie C. Henzel Scholarship
Rita K. Gollin Scholarship for Excellence in American Literature
Jessica Marinaro and Sarah Sharples
Jesse M. Rodgers Memorial Scholarship
Natalie Selser Freed Memorial Scholarship
Hans Gottschalk Memorial Scholarship
2022 Senior awards
Senior awards honor graduating students on the basis of input from departmental faculty, and making these decisions is always difficult. The following students are recognized for their exceptional achievements.
Calvin Israel Award for an outstanding academic record and strong support of the Humanities
Sophie Schapiro and Olivia Clare Schmidt
William T. Beauchamp Memorial Award for outstanding service to the vitality of literature on campus
Amina E. Diakite, Cassandra Pepe, and Georgia Katharine Ludwig VanDerwater
Patricia Conrad Lindsay Memorial Award for excellence in scholastic achievement and intellectual promise
Juliet Rose Wenzel
Joseph O’Brien Memorial Award for a demonstrated record of academic excellence and a spirit of volunteerism
Jose Romero and Hannah Sullivan
2022 Writing contest winners
Irene E. Smith Award in First-Year Critical Writing: INTD 105
Wyatt Hargrove, “Why Hemingway Is Relevant”
Honorable Mention: Iliana Papadopoulos, “I CAN. I WILL”
Jérome de Romanet de Beaune Award for an Essay in Diversity Studies
- Matt Keller, “A Not so ‘Swift’ Fix: Gulliver’s Travels Destabilizes the Fiction of Supremacist Standardized Language”
- Elizabeth Roos, “The Publishing of African Women’s Literature”
- Shawna Smith, “Review Essay: Aromantic /Asexual Representation in Media”
- Madyson Gillanders, “Shockwaves: America through the Eyes of a Non-American Black”
- Alissa Moeller, “The ‘Ugly Truth’ in A Burial at Ornans”
Honorable Mention: Kathryn Sirianni, “Teaching Our Children the America We Never Knew”
John H. Parry Award for a Critical Essay
Joseph Morgan, “Emotional Hyperbole in Aphra Behn’s The History of the Nun”
Honorable Mention: Lauren Silverman, “Rape of the Lock and the Language of Rape Culture”
- Patricia Figueroa, “The Game of Life: The American Dream House”
- Thalia Maynor, “Why She Talking Like That? Beauty and Brilliance in Black Language”
- Joseph Morgan, “Fathers and Sons”
- Mollie McMullan, “Complications of Motherhood”
- Jason Ray, “Records”
Agnes Rigney Award in Drama and Screenwriting
- Patricia Figueroa, Don’t Go (Breaking My Heart)
- Anna Lynch and Susan Romance, Korea’s Sweetheart
Honorable Mention: Erika Powers, [title?]
Lucy Harmon Award in Literary Fiction
- Hannah Lustyik, “Have You Ever Told Anyone You’re Rotting Inside?”
- Matt Keller, “A Submission”
- Alison DiCesare, “The Quiet Ones”
Mary Thomas Award in Poetry
- Jenna Murray, “she is not ready to tell me he is dead”
- Kayla Eyler, “I’m old, I’m so fucking old”
- Susan Romance, “Birth of Venus”
Roos and Burgio earn national recognition from Sigma Tau Delta
Elizabeth Roos and Carly Burgio received national recognition for their work at April’s annual convention of the English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta. Both junior English majors were selected for their awards from more than four hundred presenters at the Atlanta, Georgia event, where SUNY Geneseo was represented by six competitively selected students.
Carly, who studies English literature and adolescent education, received an honorable mention for the Beth DeMeo Poetry Award, presented for excellence in convention presentations for critical work on poetry or a poet. Carly’s paper, “Redefining the Image of Emily Dickinson,” examines the correspondence between Dickinson and her long-time friend and sister-in-law Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson, exploring how these letters support a new framework of queerness through which to study the Dickinsonian canon. Through a queer theory lens, Carly’s paper delves into the complexities of Dickinson’s personal life, the impact of editors on the literary canon, and the theme of expanding the canon to become a more inclusive space.
Elizabeth is on the creative writing track of the English major, with minors in film studies and medieval studies. She took second place in the Isabel Sparks President’s Award for Original Prose with her literary fiction “Hen Feathers.” The short story follows Leah, a young woman who lives with her husband Mitch and her three chickens: Charlotte, Gertrude, and Bernadette. When Leah finds Bernadette dead one morning, killed by a fox, she is forced to readdress how far she and Mitch have come since beginning their relationship in college, and whether her dreams for their relationship have remained the same over time. Elizabeth structures a smaller, tangible conflict to suggest a much larger, intangible conflict—in this case, the death of a beloved chicken reveals tension within a relationship.
The English department congratulates Carly and Liz on these national awards and we celebrate the hard work and thoughtfulness that went into both pieces!
All members of Sigma Tau Delta at Geneseo are invited to submit to the annual convention; next year’s will be held in Denver, Colorado.
English department inducts 2022 Sigma Tau Delta students in person
On April 14th, thirty-nine students were inducted into Sigma Tau Delta’s Iota Lambda chapter of the English Honor Society at Geneseo. It was the first in-person induction hosted in three years, since the start of the pandemic, and there was an additional Zoom livestream for those who could not attend, or to enable family and friends to watch.
Current President Georgia VanDerwater welcomed the inductees before incoming President Hannah Lustyik introduced the ceremony’s keynote speaker, English and Black Studies professor, poet, and translator Dr. Lytton Smith. Taking a little time off from organizing GREAT Day, Dr. Smith gave heartwarming comments linking acclaimed YA series Wings of Fire to forming a community through shared experiences that unite us across differences. Students and faculty alike have faced adversities throughout and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic: through hardships we often find ourselves drifting apart from one another, but Dr. Smith’s speech reminded us how we can come together as a community—of students, scholars, and educators—to support and uplift one another. His message resonates particularly with Sigma Tau Delta’s mission of creating a friendly and inclusive literary community on campus.
In the annual business section of the meeting, the e-board members described their positions and their collective efforts this past year. Georgia spoke of Sigma Tau Delta’s continued efforts towards diversity and outreach, including this year’s lecture series on the topic of “Exploring Black Voices in Contemporary Media”; Public Relations Chair Rebecca Perry followed up by announcing the final lecture in the series, which will be delivered by Dr. Beth McCoy on April 20th in the Harding Lounge under the title “Yes, and Joy: Black Improv.” Rebecca also mentioned the many panels at GREAT Day that will feature English students and faculty, and reiterated the honor society’s commitment to being a hub for advertising all English-related activities. Grace Lawrence talked about her work as Treasurer, which included collecting dues and donations, marketing and organizing the English department’s new merch, and selling honors cords. The Academic Co-Chairs Isaac Schiller and Elizabeth Roos wished the new inductees well and promoted the recent annual Sigma Tau Delta Convention, which was held in person for the first time since 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia, and will take place in Denver, Colorado in 2023. Matthew Keller, who was inducted in this year’s ceremony, discussed his recent experience as the Community Service Chair and the ease of joining the e-board at the same time as joining the society; along with his efforts to facilitate an English community via Discord, he also endorsed our involvement with The Arc’s membership drive, which supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Finally, Hannah extolled the friendship and fellowship forged by the e-board, encouraging new inductees to apply for the positions, as everyone is welcome to participate in society affairs and events.
To officially induct our new members, Dr. Gillian Paku, Sigma Tau Delta’s advisor, explained the history and goals of the organization in the context of SUNY Geneseo, noting that 2022 is Iota Lambda chapter’s 50th birthday and that Geneseo has a particularly strong and active community. She praised this year’s e-board and members for “building back better” after so many projects were stalled by the pandemic, and ended the ceremony with a call-and-response of Sigma Tau Delta’s pledge. Certificates, refreshments, and congratulations went out to the new members listed below: we welcome them and look forward to working together.
- Sarah Bryk
- Jesper Chitsaz
- Francheska Colon
- Danielle Crowley
- Bridget Cunningham
- Hannah D’Accurzio
- Margaret Doty
- Marlee Fancett
- Nina Fichera
- Julia Grunes
- Travis Johnson
- Hayley Kahnis
- Jillian Kavanaugh
- Matthew Keller
- Ashley Kupiec
- Griffen LaBianca
- Kathleen McCarey
- Emily McIntosh
- Samantha Miller
- Joseph Morgan
- Diana Morley
- Jenna Murray
- Amanda Neri
- Laryssa Olsen
- Ella Pearcy
- Elliot Pecora
- Sarah Pleines
- Kya Primm
- Natalie Putnam
- Susan Romance
- Kerstyn Sage
- Sarah Sharples
- Casey Sherman
- McKinley Skala
- Jordie Slobodow
- Hannah Smith
- Bryanna Spaulding
- Madelyn Tavernier
- Ben Timmons
- Cassandra Walters
- Mandy Xiang
Sigma Tau Delta students present their work in Atlanta
On Wednesday, March 30, six Geneseo English majors departed for the 2022 International Sigma Tau Delta Convention held in Atlanta, Georgia. This convention, unlike last year’s, was held in person, allowing for a variety of roundtable and panel events. Carly Burgio, Matthew Keller, Hannah Lustyik, Elizabeth Roos, Isaac Schiller, and Georgia VanDerwater all presented works both creative and analytical throughout the three days of the convention.
On the first day, Isaac presented his paper on “Dante’s Domestic Responsibility as a Holy Mission,” and Hannah read her poetry collection “Burn & Breathe & Bleed.” On the second day, Georgia presented her thoughtful piece titled “African Diaspora: Generations of Loss and Love,” Carly presented her “Redefining the Image of Emily Dickinson,” and Matthew presented his argument on “Assimilation Through the Eyes of Gulliver.” On the third and final day, Elizabeth read from her prose piece titled “Hen Feathers.” Many of the attending students acted as chairs for the other panels, introducing the presenters and facilitating the Q&A portion, while chapter advisor Dr. Gillian Paku served not only as the esteemed trip leader but also as the moderator on many panels.
The students had the pleasure of hearing keynote speakers Richard Blanco, inaugural poet for former President Barack Obama, and Nic Stone, author of Dear Martin, a novel set in Atlanta that features a protagonist trying to make sense of contemporary racial injustice by corresponding with Martin Luther King, Jr. The students then visited the nearby Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. It was not only a wonderful time for the attending students to spend getting to know each other and listening to peers from all over the country, but also to enjoy some of Atlanta’s attractions, food, and weather 40° warmer than in Geneseo!
This opportunity is available annually to all members of Sigma Tau Delta, and acceptance is competitive. The cost of travel, accommodation, and attendance is typically offset by the English Department and an undergraduate travel and research grant from the college. Next year’s convention location is Denver, Colorado; look for advertising and deadlines in September and October, 2022.
Geneseo’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter is active all year; new members are inducted each spring (on April 14 in 2022), and most activities are open to all members and friends of Geneseo English. For further information about Sigma Tau Delta at Geneseo, please contact the incoming student president, Hannah Lustyik, or the faculty sponsor, Dr. Gillian Paku.
Photos: Gillian Paku
Kennison Earns UUP’s Highest Honor
Wes Kennison ’79, faculty fellow for international programs, was recently awarded the Nina Mitchell Award for Distinguished Service by United University Professions (UUP), the nation’s largest higher education union. It is the union’s highest honor.
Kennison received the award at the UUP Fall Delegate Assembly on Friday, Oct. 15.
UUP President Fred Kowal says that Kennison has consistently demonstrated consensus building, connecting different groups within the union to achieve contracts that represent everyone.
Kennison, whose several roles at Geneseo also include faculty fellow for the Office of International Programs, has been active in UUP for more than 25 years. The UUP publication The Voice noted Kennison’s involvement in the 2000 Negotiations Committee, serving as a representative for part-time faculty and staff and helping to secure them health insurance benefits. He continued to advocate for union members who are part-time as part of the UUP executive board and has been active in community service, including serving two terms as Geneseo town supervisor and chairing both Catholic Charities of Livingston County and SUNY Geneseo’s InterFaith Center.
English department students present at Sigma Tau Delta international convention
On Saturday, March 27, five members of the Geneseo chapter of Sigma Tau Delta participated in the annual convention 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, please contact the incoming student president, Georgia VanDerwater, or the faculty sponsor, Dr. Gillian Paku.
Geneseo English department’s statement on racial justice
The English department has added a statement of commitment to action on racial justice to its website. You can also read the statement below.
Our Commitment to Action on Racial Justice
As protests continue and emerge across the U.S. and around the globe in response to the killing of George Floyd, and the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, we write to express our anger and grief. We write to acknowledge that the protests unfold not only because of these killings but because of the accumulated history of Black death at the hands of law enforcement, vigilantes, and the violence of structural inequalities. We acknowledge and mourn too many deaths, from Eric Garner to Jonathan Ferrell and Nina Pop, from Aiyana Stanley-Jones and Pamela Turner to Patrick Dorismond, from Tamir Rice and Tanisha Anderson to Amadou Diallo, from Sandra Bland and Korryn Gaines to Atatiana Jefferson and Shantel Davis and Trayvon Martin and so many more human beings across time and geography. We acknowledge that these protests unfold also because of the toll of COVID-19 that has fallen disproportionately upon Black people because of the long-term effects both of white supremacy and anti-Black racism. We write to support Black Lives Matter and other national and local movements for justice and to commit to actions as well as words.
We write to support Black students who in both the physical and digital world must navigate Geneseo. We witness the excellent academic and creative work of the Black students in our classes, students able to thrive and innovate even while Geneseo’s spaces, like those of other predominantly white campuses, accumulate everyday careless and gratuitous insults and other obstacles to Black students’ achievement of a public liberal arts education.
As Geneseo English alumna Evelyn Mendez puts it, “Black individuals are dying inside and outside of jails and because many of us are afraid to seek help because of systemic racism….We aren’t at peace. All we want is to no longer live in fear.” We write, then, in response to her and her peers: we write to affirm the shared responsibility of our Community Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and particularly to “sustaining and expanding the diversity of our community and to making equity for all members of our diverse community a measure of our success.” That is, we write to acknowledge we can and must do more and better to fight actively against anti-Black racism.
As faculty members who study and craft literature, we rely on the long record of evidence that Black artists, scholars, and cultural critics have woven into stories of the fight against fear and the fight for peace that cannot be unpartnered from justice. These are narratives that, in the words of Geneseo English alumna Dr. Jacqueline Monique Jones, can “help us better understand the world that we’re in and the world that we want to see.” We strive in our courses to offer specific historical and cultural contexts for the texts that we teach, understanding both that art does not lie outside of history and politics and that complex stories and rigorous interdisciplinary scholarship inform the transformative Black art and activism we witness today. Such transformation is possible even and especially when it feels impossible; indeed, as Geneseo English alumna Sabrina Bramwell put it during her 2019 Senior Oration, “A core characteristic of interdisciplinary thinking is being willing to value a thought that differs from your own and use it to foster growth. With this mindset, the fear of difference is transformed to intrigue, the unfamiliar is now admired, and inclusion—the desire to hear different opinions—develops more naturally.” Discomfort is not there to be avoided but rather to be explored, not singly or by a few but by a community committed to equity as essential to inquiry.
As teachers and scholars, our commitment is to be listeners: to learn, to reflect, to educate ourselves and others. In the wake of the 2016 election, Mariame Kaba wrote that “Humility is in order across the land. It’s really OK to say that you don’t know the answers. You don’t have to pretend you do.” Kaba’s words guide us now. We commit to taking action, and in doing so commit to making Black lives the center while not asking those most affected by anti-Black racism to take on more emotional labor. We commit to be accountable for the sources, words, images, and narratives that we spread in personal and digital spaces, especially as Black Lives Matter warns of misinformation and disinformation targeted at the movement. We commit to take action within our various spheres of influence. We refuse saviorism, white and otherwise. We offer what we have and can in service to building a more just world.
Above all, we are called to commit to behaviors and structures for care and caring rather than behaviors and structures that exist only for calling to order, as Fred Moten has termed it. Such commitment must be careful. As Saidiya Hartman has affirmed, “Care is the antidote to violence.” Yet also as Geneseo English alumna Davina Ward has affirmed, “Care can exist as violence. Violence can exist as care.” We see this over and over where police, whose charge is to “care and protect,” target Black people with violence. Resources devoted to continuing such violence (such as the $230 million paid out in claims against the NYPD in 2018 alone) must be reallocated to structures for public health, mental health, and public education.
As faculty members who teach and craft works of the imagination, we must not fail to work to build the different world that protestors and students are imagining through their demands. Indeed, rather than just saying Black lives matter, we should actively work on what Geneseo English and Philosophy student Emma Mandella identifies as a new model for reparations. Citing the work of Roy Brooks, in “The Ills of American Capitalism: A New Case for Reparations,” Mandella argues for reparations in the atonement model, demanding revolutionary structural change to support Black citizens. As an alternative to settlement reparations, the atonement model emphasizes long-term efforts to address structural inequalities and systemic inequities.
We close with words from Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, who notes a truth that emerged from her experience coming into what she calls her “full power” as an adult human being during the Civil Rights Movement:
Sometimes you really need things to be thrown up in your community, everything to be turned over in such a way so you have another chance to look at what you have put together. And in any culture, any people, any history, throwing things up gives you a chance to be selective about what you will carry forward.
Note: All Geneseo students and alumni invoked in this statement have given their express consent to their work being included in this context.
English department announces 2020 student awards
We’re excited to announce our 2020 senior award winners and the winners of our annual writing contest.
2020 English Department Senior Awards
The end of spring semester traditionally is a time to honor, in person, the hard work and accomplishments of our graduating seniors. As believers in metaphor, the English Department won’t allow separation or measly screens to become an obstacle to celebration — for as Walt Whitman wrote, “a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.” In this spirit the faculty recognize sustained excellence in literary studies through our senior awards. A couple of months not seeing these students in person remind us how much they have contributed to the vitality of our department during their time at Geneseo. Our congratulations!
William T. Beauchamp Memorial Award
Presented annually to a senior for outstanding service to the vitality of literature on campus.
Winner: Sean McAneny
Patricia Conrad Lindsay Memorial Award
Presented annually to a senior for excellence in scholastic achievement and intellectual promise.
Winners: Clio Lieberman, Margaret Pigliacelli, Brianna Riggio
Calvin Israel Award in the Humanities
Presented annually to a senior with an outstanding academic record and a strong support of the humanities.
Winners: Claire Corbeaux, Abigail Ritz, Helen Warfle
Joseph O’Brien Memorial Award
Presented annually to a senior English major who has exhibited those attributes exemplified in the life and career of our colleague Joe O’Brien: a demonstrated record of academic excellence, a spirit of volunteerism, and a sterling moral character.
Winners: Sandy Brahaspat, Julia Merante, Don Rothwein
2020 Geneseo Writing Contest
As physical journeys have narrowed during the coronavirus epidemic, many of us have become reacquainted with the power of writing to open up new spaces. The English Department has the pleasure of recognizing excellence in student critical, creative, and self-reflective writing though its annual writing contest. The contest is open to the whole campus, and this year’s winners, ranging from first-year students to graduating seniors, represent the following programs: the English Literature and Creative Writing tracks, Women and Gender Studies, Africana Studies, the Film Studies minor, Adolescent Education certification, the Edgar Fellows program, French, Philosophy, History, Anthropology, Communication, Geography, Psychology, Mathematics, Biology, and Physics. The winning entries were written for classes with ANTH, AMST, ENGL, FMST, HIST, HONR, and INTD 105 prefixes, and sometimes also produced by students writing outside class for the sheer love of language. Congratulations to all!
Irene E. Smith Award in First-Year Critical Writing: INTD 105
Sarah Fadlaoui, “Carlisle in the Great War”
Maria Pawlak, “Conformity in the United States and its Effect throughout the Twentieth Century”
Madisyn Pausley, “Parable of the Sower as a Warning for Climate Change”
Nicole Lallier, “Human Migration: Displacement from Disaster”
Jérôme de Romanet de Beaune Award for an Essay in Diversity Studies
Brianna Riggio, “Can He See the Forest for the Trees?: The Eagle Tree”
Sean McAneny, “Approaches to Teaching Age in King Lear”
Rachel McLauchlin, “Maternal Horror: Women’s Bodies as Monstrosity in Macbeth”
Claire Corbeaux, “The Threat of Greed and the Cultivation of Community”
Shannon Curley, “Space, History, and Tourism in Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina”
- Ashton McCormack, “Benefits of Entomophagy”
- Alissa Moeller, “American Slavery and Historical Silences in the Journal of Women’s History”
Sean McAneny, “Addressing Slavery’s Legacy at the Academy”
Emma Short, “Fame, Fandom, & The Woman in the Spotlight”
Abigail Ritz, “This Is Paratext”
- Claire Corbeaux, “Realizing Service Learning”
- Brianna Riggio, “Ableist Constructions of Communication Disabilities and Identity”
John H. Parry Award for a Critical Essay
Sean McAneny, “Against the King’s Two Bodies: Richard’s Corporeal Authority”
Claire Corbeaux, “Wuthering Heights, Quantum Entanglement, and Loving One Dead”
- Rosa Mesbahi, “Dismantling Dualisms: Exploring Agency and Victimhood in Purple Hibiscus”
- Abigail Ritz, “Disability as Doozy: Kurt Vonnegut’s Use of Disability as Metaphor in ‘Harrison Bergeron’”
Aliyha Gill, “Sisters”
Kyle Navratil, “Into Base Camp”
- Hannah Fuller, “Promises”
- Rosa Mesbahi, “October”
Agnes Rigney Award in Drama and Screenwriting
Patrick Donohue, “The Masque of the Red Death”
Ben Michalak, “FOLLOW THE PATH: A Twelve Day Immersive Theater Piece”
Mary A. Thomas Award in Poetry
Kayla Eyler, “THE FAIRWAY MARKET HOSTAGE CRISIS”
Aliyha Gill, “Ruminations”
Sparrow Potter, “On the Slowing of the Universe”
Lucy Harmon Award in Literary Fiction**
Laura Gikas, “Not Greek”
Brianna Riggio, Selection from “Elodie May”
Elizabeth Roos, “The Archeologist”
Boston Review publishes nonfiction by Lytton Smith
Boston Review has published online “The Pruner’s Tale,”, a nonfiction piece by Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing Lytton Smith about the experience of a migrant orchard worker in Western Upstate New York. This piece is part of the Refugee Tales project, a series of walks and books in solidarity with Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigration Detainees in the U.K., Italy, North America, Australia, and elsewhere. “The Pruner’s Tale” first appeared in Refugee Tales vol. 3 (Comma Press, 2019).