4 Campbell students to present at English honor society’s international conference

BUIES CREEK — Four undergraduate students at Campbell University will present research they’ve conducted at the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society’s annual conference being held in Savannah, Ga., Feb. 26 through March 1.

The students who are presenting at the conference are juniors Caitlin Brown, Rebecca Hatcher, Olivia Henry and Erin Overton. All four are members of Sigma Tau Delta, which was established in 1924 to confer distinction for high achievement in English language, literature and writing and to foster literacy and all aspects of the discipline of English. All four students are also either English majors or professional education majors who are getting their teaching license in English. Brown is the president of Campbell’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta.

“I am so excited about the achievement of these four students and our trip to the International Convention,” said Shirley Jefferds, faculty adviser of Campbell’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta. “This kind of exposure to English students from around the world who are excited about literature, research, writing and sharing their findings is an opportunity of immeasurable value.”

The Campbell chapter of Sigma Tau Delta raised money for the students and for faculty to attend the conference. Also attending the conference with Jefferds and the four students will be Department of English Chair Gina Peterman, Associate Professor of English Alan Davy, and English Instructor Nate Salsbury.

“Our entire English Department has been so supportive of Sigma Tau Delta and excited that four of our students have had their papers selected for presentation,” Jefferds said. “Campbell University will be well represented in Savannah this weekend.”

What follows is a look at the four students who will present at the conference and their research.

Caitlin Brown: “The Contradictory Hero in Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Mother Night’”

Major: Secondary English education with a middle grades extension

Class Year: Junior

Hometown: Havelock, N.C.

What my research is about: My paper explores the way that a hero and an anti-hero can coexist in the same character. I seek to prove that, in “Mother Night,” author Kurt Vonnegut is providing a flawed protagonist so that his readers can perceive a third, gray area that exists outside of the canon realms of morality.

What interested me about it: I think that the best books are those that teach us something about ourselves that we didn’t already know. For me, “Mother Night” was one of those books.

What I learned from it: It taught me that self-identity is the strongest force that you can have against a world set on changing you, and more importantly, that it is worth protecting.

Rebecca Hatcher: “Denying a Sinful Nature in Coleridge’s ‘Christabel’”

Major: English with teacher licensure

Hometown: Wendell, N.C.

Class Rank: Junior

What my research is about: Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Christabel” examines the Romantic Era’s belief that women possessed a wavering moral nature. When Christabel meets Geraldine, the mysterious and supernatural embodiment of Christabel’s sinful nature, she has the choice to defend her purity and fight against Geraldine or welcome her in. Coleridge uses Christabel’s morality, the inversion of gender roles, and Geraldine’s supernatural deception to assert that women are corruptible.

What interested me about it: I have always been interested in Gothic literature and the use of the supernatural or mystery in poetry, as well as societal beliefs concerning women in the Romantic Era. Coleridge’s “Christabel” combines both of these interests, and his depiction of the two women’s internal battle between good and evil fascinated me.

What I learned from it: I realized how much Coleridge’s writing influenced that of many Gothic writers, including Edgar Allan Poe and Bram Stoker. My research also broadened my understanding of the obstacles and prejudice women faced, and continue to face, in the fight for gender equality. This was especially evident in the many criticisms of “Christabel.”

Olivia Henry: “Ben Johnson: The Religious Aspects of ‘On My First Son’”

Major: English with a minor in history and interdisciplinary studies

Hometown: New London, N.C.

Class Rank: Junior

What my research is about: My paper is an in-depth analysis of Ben Jonson’s poem “On My First Son.” It explores the religious concepts featured in the poem and how Ben Jonson commemorated the death of his son through language and literature.

What interested me about it: I love British literature and when I got the chance to study Ben Jonson, I really enjoyed reading his poetry. While the poem is a sad one, as it talks about his 7-year-old son’s death, it also expresses Jonson’s faith and how he learned to cope with his loss. Through his belief in Christ and also through his writing, he was able to move past this devastating time. This poem represents hope for everyone.

What I learned from it: I learned about life in the 16th century since Ben Jonson lived during this time, but I also learned about how the faith and personal life of writers can deeply impact their writing and the kind of mark they leave on the world.

Erin Overton: “John’s Quest for Compromise in ‘Go Tell It on the Mountain’’”

Major: English with teacher licensure

Class Rank: Junior

Hometown: Garner, N.C.

What my research is about: Everyone in Harlem, especially those in the Church of the Fire Baptized, knows that John Grimes is destined to be a powerful preacher, just like the leader of their church: his father. But John is insistent that there must be a way to God without completely excluding the world around him, as his overbearingly strict father suggests. John encounters the issue prevalent in Christianity today — how much involvement in the non-spiritual realm of the outside world is too much –and he finds that some of the boundaries his father has set between the church and the world are artificial, since John has lessons to learn from both sources.

What interested me about it: I, like John, grew up in a tradition that discouraged involvement in any activity that was “worldly” (in other words, not overtly spiritual in purpose). I wanted to analyze how he upheld both elements of his Christian upbringing and of the lessons people and art forms in the outside world had to offer. After all, I believe that God designed the world — for us to be in it, but not of it; while He intends for Christians to be different, He does not intend for them to turn a deaf ear to issues in the community.

What I learned from it: I came to much clearer terms with my own faith. I was inspired to take a second look at the boundaries between the church and the world, and rather than excluding much of the world God has created, I should look for lessons in it. The four walls of the church are not the only place God dwells: He dwells within His children, wherever they go, and will give them wisdom.