Spring Speakers Series: “Quilting as Art and Life”

by Misha Saeedpour

On Monday, April 15th students and faculty joined Dr. Robbie Pinter in McWhorter Hall 102 for the English Department’s final installation of the Spring Speakers Series. Dr. Pinter’s lecture focused on the importance of quilting within the Lakota Sioux tribes and how one can analyze their inception, development, and rhetoric as a way to further learn the stories of the tribe’s women. She sees quilts as a metaphor for life – the top layer representing artistic expression, the second representing a filler layer in life, and the third layer representing a durable foundation.

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While the Lakota women already knew how to sew and work with textiles, it was the arrival of European missionaries in the 1900s that taught them to sew using European styles. Lakota quilts are often presented as symbolic gifts to remember loved ones or represent honor, as well as to mark important moments in life like marriage and childbirth. Quilting quickly became an important part of the Lakota cultural practice because it not only served as a way for them to bring money into their homes, but also as a way for them to find their voices and share their stories.

After Dr. Pinter’s presentation there was a brief Q&A session for students and faculty who wanted to dive deeper into the history of Lakota quilting.

2019 Take Back the Night

by Misha Saeedpour

Thursday, April 4th was Belmont’s Annual Take Back the Night event, held in the Janet Ayers Chapel. Dr. Amy Hodges-Hamilton opened the event with some saddening statistics about assault in America and then introduced Rochelle Brock, the Director of Ministry Development at Leaving the Cocoon. Afterwards, she called up eight students from her Writing in the Community class from the fall 2018 semester who had worked with Brock and seven other women from Leaving the Cocoon. They had spent the semester listening to the stories of these women and writing letters from their point of view. During the event these students read from their work, moving the students and faculty in attendance. After their performance Rochelle Brock was invited to take the stage, where she spoke more about her story and the work Leaving the Cocoon does to help women who are victims of assault.

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Those in attendance were then encouraged to participate in the Take Back the Night march around campus, to further promote awareness about assault.

Afterwards, we reconvened for a short vigil to close out the night.

Spring Speaker’s Series: “Give Your Ideas Legs”

by Misha Saeedpour

On Wednesday, April 3rd faculty and students joined Dr. Smith-Whitehouse in the Janet Ayers Conference Center to celebrate National Walking Day with her presentation on how walking can influence creativity. After talking about her history with walking and why it is important to her, Dr. Smith-Whitehouse went on to discuss reasons why we walk – reasons like to create change or for our own spiritual state. She referenced passages from her book Afoot and Lighthearted: A Journal for Mindful Walking, and mentioned other writers who were fond of walking, such as Charles Dickens and Friedrich Nietzsche. She closed the presentation by expanding on how walking inspires creative ideation, in real time and after the walk.

Give Your Ideas Legs
Dr. Andrea Stover and Dr. Bonnie Smith-Whitehouse

After the presentation, Dr. Smith-Whitehouse (joined by Dr. Stover) invited students to walk a couple laps with her around The Lawn as a way to get their creative juices flowing for the rest of the day.

Family Literacy Day

Many BU English majors pitched in to share the joy of reading with kids in the Edgehill neighborhood at Family Literacy Day this past Saturday. This event is always a highlight of the Spring semester! Read on!! (click on title above for slideshow of images)

James Sanchez’s “Man on Fire”

by Misha Saeedpour

Filmmaker James Sanchez joined us in the Johnson Theater Monday, February 4th for a screening of his documentary Man on Fire. The film followed the story of Charles Moore, a 79-year-old minister, who set himself on fire outside a Dollar General as an act of protest against racism in his town of Grand Saline, Texas in 2014. Sanchez said he decided to film the documentary after finishing his dissertation on the same topic. He felt a strong connection to Charles Moore because he was also from Grand Saline and remembered the stories of racism shared throughout the town. While working on his dissertation he found that many newspapers and news networks didn’t fully cover the story, leaving Moore’s name and intention out of their reports, and therefore felt motivated to produce the documentary.

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Following the film, we had time for an extensive Q & A session. Students were able to ask Sanchez more about his filmmaking experience and his thoughts about the film since its completion. Overall, while the film was heartbreaking, it was inspiring to hear the story of someone who took such a passionate stand against the wrongs their community was perpetuating.

African American Read-In

On Wednesday in the Multi-Media Room of the Bunch Library, students and faculty gathered to read and listen to literary works at the African American Read-In. This convocation was part of a national event, founded in 1990 by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English with the intention of making literature a major emphasis of Black History Month.


A wide variety of writing was read: James Baldwin to Ta-Nehisi Coates; Maya Angelou to Lauryn Hill; Margaret Walker to Elizabeth Alexander. More than 15 readers came forward to read literature by these writers and others: Toni Morrison, Terrance Hayes, Robert Hayden, Melvin Dixon, Jesmyn Ward, and many more. Though the room was hot because of library remodeling, we hope everyone left with a resolve to seek out and read these authors and their works!

Faculty, Staff, Alumni, and Students Help Celebrate Dr. Paine’s Retirement

Last Friday in the Massey Board Room, faculty, staff, and students gathered to celebrate Dr. John Paine’s  37 years of teaching and service at Belmont and to wish him well in his retirement. Dr. Marcia McDonald was the master of ceremonies, and interspersed readings from several of Dr. Paine’s favorite writers among the many faculty and student reminiscences.

The following resolution, approved unanimously by the English Department, provides a good though still somehow insufficient summary of his enormous contributions to student and faculty life at Belmont:

Whereas, Dr. John H. E. Paine has served the Department of English at Belmont University for 38 years as Professor of Literature and Professor of Language and as Chair of the Department,

Whereas, Dr. John H. E. Paine has served as professor of undergraduate and graduate studies, teaching exemplary classes in modern, comparative, classical, European, and Japanese literatures, literary theory, and French language and literatures, and teaching courses in the newest frontiers of literature,

Whereas, Dr. John H. E. Paine has served the School of Humanities, the CAS, and CLASS with patience and commitment to high standards on numerous committees and planning groups, including curriculum committees and tenure and promotion committees,

Whereas, Dr. John H. E. Paine was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to France and sabbaticals for scholarly projects,

Whereas, Dr. John H. E. Paine has served Belmont University as its first director of Study Abroad, inaugurating a range of programs for students in all majors at the university, and first venturing into new territories himself to establish study abroad programs and actively participating in NAFSA,

Whereas, Dr. John H. E. Paine has served as the campus liaison to the Fulbright commission, consulting, guiding and supporting numerous faculty and students in their applications for Fulbright grants

Whereas, Dr. John H. E. Paine has served the scholarly community by publications and presentations in comparative literature, by his editorship of the Journal of the Short Story in English and the Japanese Studies Association Journal, and his membership in scholarly organizations including MLA and JSA,

Whereas, Dr. John H. E. Paine has mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students, among our best and brightest, over the years, guiding their inquiry and questions, sustaining their drive to write an excellent paper or thesis, and supporting their aspirations for further scholarly study, and continuing connections with them after their graduation,

Whereas, Dr. John H. E. Paine is an exemplary campus citizen and community member in his home town of Franklin, TN,

THEREFORE, the Department of English affirms the nomination of Dr. John H. E. Paine to the status of Professor Emeritus, congratulates him on his stellar career, thanks him for his leadership in the department for into four decades, and most of all, thanks him for his generous spirit, his intellectual energy, and his wisdom that he has shared with us individually and collectively.