David Bryant, a senior English major and member of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society, presented a paper at the international convention, entitled “Borderlands and Enchantments,” held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 18-20, 2015.
His paper, “Slaughterhouse Five and Archetypal Subversion,” was presented in a session entitled Through a Glass Darkly. His paper explored how in this novel Kurt Vonnegut subverts the tradition of war narratives that intend to present war in a favorable light.
“It was originally a paper I wrote for Dr. Shaun Morgan’s American Literature course,” David said. “When I heard about the Sigma Tau Delta conference, I revised it pretty heavily to make it fit for presentation. The paper deals with the style and tone of Vonnegut’s novel. Slaughterhouse-Five is one of my favorite books, but it’s also a really experimental, unconventional book. My paper explained how that strangeness works as an antiwar message by going against the traditional ideas of what World War II novels are supposed to be like.”
The other presenters (pictured with him) in his session were Shaun Friedrichson (U of Nebraska, Kearney), Natalie Hall (U of Nebraska, Kearney), Marissa Thornberry (Ouachita Baptist University), and Kimberly New (Dixie State University in Utah).
Dr. Elizabeth Ruleman, faculty sponsor of the campus chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, said, “Taking students to this annual convention is one of the best ways that our college can show students what the academic life is like. The intellectual and creative energy and excitement at the convention are contagious.” Dr. Ruleman expressed her appreciation for the Neff funds and the Student Government Associations’ grant that covered some of her and David’s costs.
At the convention, over a thousand college students presented papers, attended workshops on everything from creative writing to professional development, and engaged in question and answer sessions with their peers. Students had ample opportunities to meet other students when they attended such Functions as Open Mic Night and the Dry T-Shirt/Bad Poetry Contests and the final Red and Black Gala Dinner. There was time left over to explore the city of Albuquerque with new friends. In Old Town, David posed against the backdrop of San Felipe de Neri Church.
This year’s speakers were writers Gary Soto, Simon Ortiz, and Leslie Marmon Silko. David said, “It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to be face-to-face with some of America’s greatest contemporary writers. Being able to hear readings, stories, and personal philosophies from each of them was amazing. You could tell they had an intense passion and a deeply personal investment in the things they were writing about. As both a student and a writer, it was so exciting to hear their personal stories of how they developed as artists.”
The student who presented at last year’s convention, Koltin Thompson, now a student in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Memphis, had his poetry published in The Rectangle, Sigma Tau Delta’s literary magazine. She said, “We are so proud of Koltin and his success. I am hoping that David’s paper might be published as well.”