By Kathryn Flippin, Life Editor
Three Union students were chosen from more than 1,000 entrees to present their literary pieces Feb. 29-March 3 at the Sigma Tau Delta International Convention in New Orleans.
In addition to achieving academic excellence, the members of STD, an international English honor society, strive to promote interest in English literature, writing and languages on college campuses.
The STD convention unites chapters from around the world to cultivate conversations with other writers, readers and thinkers.
“We renew our sense of ourselves, of what it means to love literature and language,” said Dr. Shannin Schroeder, 2012 convention chair, about the gathering.
This year’s convention theme, “Reawaken,” concentrated on words and understanding what an author might mean by them.
For each of the works highlighted during the convention, students and faculty members presented a view that encouraged the “Re-awaken” focus.
Whitney Williams, junior English and philosophy double major, read her paper in the “Heaven and Hell in World Literature” series.
The series featured four critical analysis pieces comparing how literature and religion work together.
“The words authors use help us to understand what their focus is,” Williams said. “In my particular piece, I looked at how the words related to religion.
“It was great to receive feedback and participate in an ongoing discussion about how religion links with literature.”
Environments that challenge the way one thinks help nurture any creative’s mind, said Michael O’Malley, junior English major who also read the short story, “Achilles,” in the original fiction category at the convention.
“One of the main reasons conferences like these are important is because they help expand how we think about English,” O’Malley said. “I think at any university there’s a sort of ‘critical bubble’ of people and ideas you interact with, and conventions like this one let us get out of that sphere to interact with people who have different ideas about things, whether it’s morals or narrative structure or the writing process or whatever.
“It’s nice to get fresh perspectives.”
Josh Garcia, senior English major, also read two original pieces. One is a series, called “America,” about different places he has traveled. The other is an abstract piece called “Mother Ocean Son.”
All three students presented their pieces at a mock reading the week before the convention.
The students and faculty from the English Department say they are grateful when students can share original pieces because they say it encourages them in their own work.
“Union has a good track record of students participating in past conventions,” said Roger Stanley, assistant professor of English and Union’s STD sponsor. “It is a big deal this year in particular because of how competitive it was. Three is a great representation of how strong our department is.”
Stanley holds the position of southern regent for STD chapters in the South. He said he was honored that his students were chosen from this region.