English Majors Devour Halloween Brunch


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A goodly gathering of English folk.

There was plenty of good food and geeky conversation as the English majors gathered for the Halloween brunch last Friday in Beaman A&B. Costumed professors and students, while not in the majority, were readily evident, and a good time seemed to be had by all.

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Dr. McDonald helps prepare the food table.
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Professor Trout’s cupcake hotel featured plenty of cleavers, bats, and skulls on red velvet cupcakes.
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Professors John and Trout dressed as the Grady daughters from “The Shining.”
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Ben came dressed as Maxx. Or did Maxx come dressed as Ben?

Dead Poets Society Holds Inaugural Meeting

No, there was no secret cave, and no, it wasn’t just a bunch of sheltered prep school boys. But Whitman was read, and Lincoln was mentioned…

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Dr. Marcia McDonald reads from “The Wanderer”

Last Friday morning a group of students and faculty met to read poems related to the theme of “Home and Exile” in anticipation of the next week’s Humanities Symposium. After memorializing the building that used to sit on the site (our old home, Wheeler Humanities), Dr. David Curtis got the main event started by reading Edgar Albert Guest’s “Home.”

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Max Mason lays down some Blake

By the end of the 45-minute session, participants had read poems by William Blake, Edwin Arlington Robinson, William Butler Yeats, Claude McKay, Anne Sexton, Jack Gilbert, Emma Lazarus, Walt Whitman, Philip Larkin, Kenneth Burke, and even Abraham Lincoln.

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The next meeting of the Dead Poets Society will be in the old Aviary on October 20, when we’ll be celebrating the poetry of–and about–Edgar Allan Poe.

Student Presentations: How Structure Shows Power

by Victoria Pan

The Belmont Undergraduate Research Symposium, often shortened to just BURS, is a series of presentations to showcase student work. Moderated by an advising faculty member, students form a panel to share their critical analysis in front of their peers. It’s a highly flattering honor, but also nerve-wracking situation.

Not that you would be able to tell, had you attended “Structuring Voice and Identity: How Narratology Informs Power and Suffering,” just last Thursday, on April 20. The panelists, which included Alexandra Huff, Elliott Neal, Amanda Nicklaus, and Rachel Petty, were all utterly composed and ready to share their thoughts.

All four students shared their work from Dr. Caresse John’s Special Studies in Critical Theory course just last fall, focusing particularly on narratology. Narratology is a structuralist approach in which form is divorced from context. Narratologists examine elements like narration, authorship, speech representation, chronology, metanarration, and narrative space.

Continue reading “Student Presentations: How Structure Shows Power”

Nashville Shakespeare Performance Archive Launches

By Victoria Pan

For many students, technology and literature exist in two separate spheres, often in opposition to each other. However, for students working on The Nashville Shakespeare Performance Archive, this isn’t the case. For these students, led by Dr. Marcia McDonald, Dr. Joel Overall, and Dr. Jayme Yeo over the past year, technology is a means to preserve and learn from artistry found in Nashville.

These students, separated into five groups, were in charge of video editing, interviews, compiling text, and synthesizing information. The project currently encompasses the Nashville Shakespeare Company’s performance of Comedy of Errors and will also include the Hamlet performance coming in the spring of 2018. Their work divides plays into four sections: directing, songwriting, acting, and costuming. The impressive results of all of their hard work can be found at https://shakespeare.belmont.edu/.

However, all of this was inspired by and made possible with the help of Dr. Laura Estill, editor of the World Shakespeare Bibliography and Associate Professor of English at Texas A&M University. During her keynote speech on April 21, she spoke about what inspired her work. Her focus, she said, is in the digital humanities: an ever-fluid field that studies humanities through digital means and specializes in the ways online sources assist and expand scholarship. Shakespeare, in particular, already was a digital phenomenon before the creation of the World Shakespeare Bibliography, and this is only becoming more and more evident. For Dr. Estill, technology helps to bridge the gap between the then of the Elizabethan era with the now of today. Continue reading “Nashville Shakespeare Performance Archive Launches”

BU English Majors Honored at University Scholarship and Awards Day

At University Scholarship and Awards Day on April 12, Rachel Petty (“A Witness to Suffering: A Narratological Analysis of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye”) and Hailey Hanks (“No One Would Choose to Die”) were honored as university-wide winners of the Alfred Leland Crabb Award for outstanding academic writing. Congratulations to these outstanding writers!

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Rachel Petty receiving her award from Dr. Susan Finch (photography credit: Sam Simpkins)
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Hailey Hanks being congratulated by Dr. Finch (photography credit: Sam Simpkins)

English Department Honors Its Best

At the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Awards Ceremony on April 10, the English Department honored students for outstanding work in several categories. Kameron Johnson was presented the Corinne Dale Award for Achievement in Writing about Gender; Lily Peterson won the William J. Fallis Award for improvement in First Year Writing; Lauren Bellatti, Amanda Nicklaus, and Rachel Petty earned the James and Sarah King Writing Awards; and Hailey Hanks won the Ruby P. Treadway Creative Writing Award.

The Carl J. and Virginia M. Chaney Awards are given annually to outstanding majors who, besides academic excellence, “must show concrete evidence of broad interests in varied fields of study; must exhibit in their everyday lives appreciation for integrity, refinement, and enthusiasm, and a superior quality of life; and must who every promise that in their future lives they will continue to be a credit to themselves, to their school, to their profession, and to their community.”

The 2017 awardees were Ryan Barker for the Carl J. Chaney Award, and both Lauren Bellatti and Ashley Sanders for the Virgnia M. Chaney Award.

Congratulations to these outstanding students!

Big Turnout for Read-In

Yesterday afternoon, approximately 125 Belmont students, faculty, and staff gathered for Belmont’s celebration of the 28th Annual African American Read-In. Sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English, this national event seeks “to promote diversity in…literature, encourage young people to read, and shine a spotlight on African American authors” (NCTE “Council Chronicle,” 2014).

During the hour-long event, 16 volunteer readers gave voice to the poetry of Robert Hayden, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, and others. Several passages from James Baldwin and James Weldon Johnson were shared, and other readings ranged from a children’s book written by Kesha Rushing (“Terrell and Keke’s Adventures through Time”) to poetry by Mae Cowdrey (“The Young Voice Cries”). The audience was treated to fiction by Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, and Ralph Ellison.


Belmont English faculty readers included Charmion Gustke, Caresse John, Sue Trout, Jason Lovvorn, David Curtis, and Wyeth Burgess. History professor Pete Kuryla also read.

Although it was the first African American Read-In held at Belmont in many years, it promises to be a rewarding annual tradition.