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.

Spring Speakers Series: “Literature from the Cliffs”

by Misha Saeedpour

Students and Faculty gathered in the Bunch Multimedia Hall on Friday, February 22nd for the English Department’s second installation of the Spring Speakers Series. Inspired by her recent visit to the Cliffs of Dover, Dr. McDonald presented a reading of Shakespeare’s King Lear from a position on the Cliffs, also knows as Shakespeare’s Cliff. She spoke on the importance of Dover within the text, reflecting on scenes from Act IV and the way they interact with the way Shakespeare describes the lovely landscape of the cliffs. Dr. McDonald referred to the Cliffs of Dover once being a landing point for refugees who were crossing the English Channel, allowing the landscape to symbolize a place resilience and a shelter for outcasts within the text. Considered a regular attraction, the sights of Cliffs of Dover have influenced many other works of literature throughout a number of literary movements.

Literature From the Cliffs
Dr. Marcia McDonald

After the presentation, a short Q&A was held so students and faculty to ask further questions. 

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!

Welcome, Dr. Heather Finch!

The English Department is excited to announce that Dr. Heather Finch, currently a Faculty Fellow here at Belmont, will be joining the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Fall of 2019.

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Dr. Finch received her Ph.D. from Auburn University. Her research and teaching experience and interests include Early American and African American literature with a specific emphasis on the fragmented narratives of pre-nineteenth century enslaved women.

Good Lunch!

BU English faculty and students gathered in JAAC 3058 for a brown bag lunch on Friday, October 12. The mood was jovial, as everyone was anticipating the next week’s fall break. If you couldn’t make it, there will be another one on November 9. See you there!