Professor of English Dr. Joan Little reports that six English majors—Rebekah Bowen, Rebecca Pearson, Kyle Ritland, Rachel Talbot, Caroline Thomas, and Laura Walenceus—were selected by the English honor society Sigma Tau Delta to present papers at the organization’s 90th annual convention in Savannah this spring.
Bowen, a junior from Columbia, presented “Clean,” a short work of fiction she wrote for Dr. Christine Schott’s Fiction Writing Workshop last spring. She describes her story as an exploration of “our cultural obsession with simplicity in external environments and its connection to the human need for internal clarity and peace.”
Pearson, a senior from Laurens, made two presentations at the conference: “Eldritch Creations: Lost in Time and Space,” an essay on the importance of American author H.P. Lovecraft for modern literature; and “The Waiting Room,” an original play that was awarded first place in its category.
Ritland, a junior from Honea Path, presented “The Pacific,” a short story he wrote for Schott’s Fiction Workshop. “With support from a few of the other Erskine students, I was able to practice reading my story aloud and become fully prepared to present it to other students,” he said.
Talbot, a junior from Rock Hill, read an essay recalling a trip to a cemetery, “The Cool of a Graveyard in the Heat of Summer.”
Thomas, a junior from Raleigh, N.C., presented a critical essay, “Psychological Oppression in Wide Sargasso Sea,” about the 1966 post-colonial novel by Jean Rhys.
Walenceus, a senior from Greenwood, presented “Ripples of Darkness,” on the concept of the great chain of being in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Presenting their papers to audiences of students from colleges across the country was a key experience for Erskine students at the convention.
Ritland enjoyed having a thoughtful audience for his work. “Having a piece of writing examined and explored by other students equally involved in the literary world is an unbelievably helpful and satisfying experience,” he said.
They also listened to works by other students and engaged in discussions.
“We were able to contribute to the discussions, debates, and overall supportive intellectual environment fostered at the convention on a level comparable to some of [the] ‘big name’ schools,” Pearson said.
“It can be easy to forget the real quality of our school’s academics from within ‘the Erskine bubble,’” she added.
Ritland found that one of the workshops offered during the conference, “Publishing 101,” was “surprisingly useful.”
“This special seminar explored the details of cracking into literary magazines, soliciting agencies, and selling your writing, all from the point of view of someone who had actually been published and had relevant information to impart,” he said.
For Pearson, interaction within the Erskine group as well as outside the group with students from other schools was rewarding.
“Not only did I get to travel with a really creative and fun group, but the convention itself showed me just how well the Erskine English department prepares its students to participate and succeed in the ‘real world,’” she said.