Seventeen members of Geneseo’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society, attended this year’s conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, accompanied by Prof. Caroline Woidat and adviser Prof. Gillian Paku. They were Amy Bishop, Liam Cody, Jennie Conway, Sean Fischer, Meghan Kearns, Erin Koehler, Lucia Lotempio, Ellie MacWilliam, Rebecca Miller, Christina Mortellaro, Michelle Mundt, Sean Neill, John Panus, Katie Silvestri, Ben Wach, Katie Waring, and Jo-Ann Wong.
For many of the students who attended this year’s convention, titled “Borderlands and Enchantments,” it was their first time participating in a conference where they were allowed to interact with critical and creative writing from college students around the world. The experience allowed students “to gain valuable connections throughout the conference, [and become involved in] discussion with other panelists, who brought new ideas and theories to our conversations,” said Senior Ellie MacWilliam. Students attended a variety of panels and roundtables on topics such as post-colonial literatures, Modernism, Transgender and Bisexuality in Young Adult Literature, critical theory in film and television, and XML text encoding in music and literature. For junior Michelle Mundt, being involved in panels surrounded by her college peers gave her the opportunity to learn “a lot on how to present a paper and question my motives in writing. I also enjoyed being able to listen to other students’ presentations and gleaning from their knowledge on different subjects.” Attendees also listened to presentations from acclaimed authors such as Simon Ortiz and Leslie Marmon Silko. Senior Rebecca Miller found Silko’s reading “the most memorable part about the conference. . . . The conference was educational and expansive, and overall a great way to spend spring break.”
The Geneseo students were awarded two first place honors, along with the Best Convention Paper. Senior Ben Wach won the Critical Essays in Theory category and Katie Waring won the Creative Non-Fiction category, with Katie’s essay, “Transdifferentiating Cells,” ultimately named top piece at the convention. Throughout the conference, the students supported each other at the panel presentations. Senior Lucia LoTempio said, “It was definitely enlightening to make new connections with my peers and to experience the fruits of their work at Geneseo. I was consistently (though not unexpectedly) impressed with the insightfulness and intellectual difficulty of each Geneseo student’s work, whether it was critical or creative. It made me especially proud to call myself a member of the Geneseo community!” Students in the Creative Writing and Literature tracks were able to come together: “It was an honor to be able to have presented both a critical paper and a collection of poetry at the conference an experience that I was extremely lucky to have had,” said Senior Erin Koehler.
The Geneseo English attendees at this year’s convention unanimously agreed on the value of taking advantage of the opportunity that Sigma Tau Delta offers students. This convention allows students to expand their knowledge of other work happening in both critical and creative fields across the world. As Senior Sean Fischer noted, “Hopefully more students can see how successful the group that attended this year’s conference was and begin working on their own research projects or creative writing collections to submit for next year’s conference!”