English majors represent Erskine at conferences

Posted on May 10, 2016

English majors at Shakespeare event

From left, Sarah Hoyt, Blake Little, and Autumn Horne

Several English majors recently presented papers at scholarly meetings, according to Professor of English Dr. Joan Little.

Seniors Autumn Horne and Sarah Hoyt as well as junior Blake Little presented papers written for Little’s English 407 class at a Shakespeare symposium in Columbia in April. Senior Jennifer Jennings attended both the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society Convention March 2-5 in Minneapolis and the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society Convention April 7-9 in Alexandria, Va., delivering a different paper at each conference.

The Shakespeare symposium was planned in connection with “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare,” an exhibition hosted at the University of South Carolina April 11-May 1 in which the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s works, published in 1623, was displayed.

“Blake, Autumn, and I were well received and complimented. We nearly rivaled the number of USC undergraduates that presented,” Sarah Hoyt said. Her paper was focused on “defending Cressida in ‘Troilus and Cressida,’” she said. She noted that everyone at the conference was “knowledgeable and passionate about Renaissance literature, particularly about Shakespeare.”

“Apart from the conference, we got to see Shakespeare’s first folio and a number of other Renaissance works on display at USC ,” Hoyt added.

Blake Little presented “Allegory vs. Reality: The Complexity of Shakespeare’s Characters.” “I was in the second panel of the day, a panel that followed three graduate students who presented their theses,” she said. “After my panel was completed, two audience members spoke to me directly and told me I did a wonderful job, especially considering my age and the fact that this was my first conference.”

Little also paid tribute to her professor and namesake. “One man who addressed me wanted to know who my advising professor was for this paper,” she said. “I told him Dr. Joan Little, to which he said she did a very good job with her students.”

Autumn Horne presented “Gender and Linguistics in Love’s Labor’s Lost.” She describes her paper as “an analysis of the ways that Shakespeare characterizes the men and women in Love’s Labor’s Lost differently based on their use of language,” and notes that in the play, “men use excessive metaphors and puns…while the women are extremely literal.”

Horne said she felt “excited and yet comfortable” at the symposium. “I’m grateful for Dr. Little and the rest of the English department who have prepared me so well to join in the conversation about Shakespeare while I was at the symposium.”

English major Jennifer Jennings

Jennifer Jennings

Jennifer Jennings said she was the only Erskine representative at the Sigma Tau Delta convention, “though my mom attended for moral support.” She presented “Confronting the Community of Monsters and Men,” written for a medieval literature class taught by Assistant Professor of English Christine Schott. The paper centered on “identity politics in the Anglo Saxon epic Beowulf, specifically focusing on the relationship between the hero Beowulf and a dragon,” she said.

“The Sigma Tau convention was really a wonderful experience because I got to meet with English majors from all over the nation and discuss our research and interests in the field of English,” Jennings said. She said she especially enjoyed “the professor-led panels that discussed unique topics of English studies like Jane Austen in film, or studying fan fiction as literature.”

At the Alpha Chi convention, Jennings was one of a small Erskine group that included seniors Meg Randall and Christina Holbrooks, both of whom made presentations, led by faculty advisor Dr. Brooks Kuykendall.

“My paper for the Alpha Chi convention was “A Marriage of the Minds: The Balance of Power in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.” Jennings said. “I wrote this paper for Dr. Little’s Shakespeare class, which is the equivalent of a capstone English class and a requirement for an English degree.”

In the paper, Jennings argued that “Shakespeare uses the popular Elizabethan notion of ‘taming a shrew’ and changes it to create a comical courtship, a considerate marriage, and a compromise in the balance of power in Petruchio’s relationship with Kate.”

Randall, a political science major, offered “Reflections on Hispanic Immigration and Cultural Integration in the U.S. Today.” Holbrooks, a biology major, presented “Determination of the Degree of Contribution of Mutation in DDX3X to Intellectual Disability in the South Carolina Population.”

“It was a good conference, and Erskine—as always—was very well represented,” Kuykendall said of the Alpha Chi meeting.