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

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 students shine at 2016 Sigma Tau Delta Conference

Seven Geneseo students represented the English department last week at this year’s convention of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society. The students — Noah Chauvin, Ariana Dipreta, Jeremy Jackson, Elizabeth Landrum, Megan Meadows, Zachary Muhlbauer, and Michelle Mundt — were accompanied by Prof. Gillian Paku, faculty advisor to Geneseo’s chapter of the society.

IMG_9212Over the course of three days, the students presented their peer-reviewed work in front of engaged and enthusiastic audiences. Each student participated in a panel with papers on related topics (James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, issues of race or postcolonialism), offering opportunities for members of the audience to pose questions and for presenters to establish running dialogues among themselves. Showing great support for one another, the students attended the panels of their Geneseo peers, along with many other panels of interest, be it one focused on C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, on African American literature, or featuring creative nonfiction on addiction and depression.

[See more photos from the convention.]

There were numerous ways to network and meet like-minded peers, domestic and international, as well as chances to explore the cultural backdrop of Minneapolis, from performances at the renowned Guthrie Theatre to wandering the huge Mall of America, plus the occasional gathering at an Irish pub. As has been the case for several years now, the Geneseo group also took home one of the convention prizes for best submissions, with Noah’s creative non-fiction essay, “For Want of Syncope,” winning second place as a response to the convention’s common reader, Charles Baxter’s The Soul Thief (2008).

All students who are members of Sigma Tau Delta are eligible to submit to the convention, a competitive process. Next year’s convention will be held March 29 – April 1 in Louisville, KY, where one of the featured speakers will be Marlon James, recent winner of the Man Booker Prize.

Submissions are usually due at the end of October, and the Sigma Tau Delta student e-board is always happy to help with the process and keep our excellent tradition of participation strong.

Geneseo Sigma Tau Delta students take top honors at annual conference

Seventeen members of Geneseo’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society, attended this year’s conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, accompanied by Prof. Caroline Woidat and adviser Prof. Gillian Paku. They were Amy Bishop, Liam Cody, Jennie Conway, Sean Fischer, Meghan Kearns, Erin Koehler, Lucia Lotempio, Ellie MacWilliam, Rebecca Miller, Christina Mortellaro, Michelle Mundt, Sean Neill, John Panus, Katie Silvestri, Ben Wach, Katie Waring, and Jo-Ann Wong.

std15-3For many of the students who attended this year’s convention, titled “Borderlands and Enchantments,” it was their first time participating in a conference where they were allowed to interact with critical and creative writing from college students around the world. The experience allowed students “to gain valuable connections throughout the conference, [and become involved in] discussion with other panelists, who brought new ideas and theories to our conversations,” said Senior Ellie MacWilliam. Students attended a variety of panels and roundtables on topics such as post-colonial literatures, Modernism, Transgender and Bisexuality in Young Adult Literature, critical theory in film and television, and XML text encoding in music and literature. std15-5For junior Michelle Mundt, being involved in panels surrounded by her college peers gave her the opportunity to learn “a lot on how to present a paper and question my motives in writing. I also enjoyed being able to listen to other students’ presentations and gleaning from their knowledge on different subjects.” Attendees also listened to presentations from acclaimed authors such as Simon Ortiz and Leslie Marmon Silko. Senior Rebecca Miller found Silko’s reading “the most memorable part about the conference. . . . The conference was educational and expansive, and overall a great way to spend spring break.”

std15-6The Geneseo students were awarded two first place honors, along with the Best Convention Paper. Senior Ben Wach won the Critical Essays in Theory category and Katie Waring won the Creative Non-Fiction category, with Katie’s essay, “Transdifferentiating Cells,” ultimately named top piece at the convention. Throughout the conference, the students supported each other at the panel presentations. Senior Lucia LoTempio said, “It was definitely enlightening to make new connections with my peers and to experience the fruits of their work at Geneseo. I was consistently (though not unexpectedly) impressed with the insightfulness and intellectual difficulty of each Geneseo student’s work, whether it was critical or creative. It made me especially proud to call myself a member of the Geneseo community!” Students in the Creative Writing and Literature tracks were able to come together: “It was an honor to be able to have presented both a critical paper and a collection of poetry at the conference an experience that I was extremely lucky to have had,” said Senior Erin Koehler.

The Geneseo English attendees at this year’s convention unanimously agreed on the value of taking advantage of the opportunity that Sigma Tau Delta offers students. This convention allows students to expand their knowledge of other work happening in both critical and creative fields across the world. As Senior Sean Fischer noted, “Hopefully more students can see how successful the group that attended this year’s conference was and begin working on their own research projects or creative writing collections to submit for next year’s conference!”

See more photos from the conference.