Drawing an eventful semester to a close, the English Department’s annual Spring Fling event was held at the Anderson House on Tuesday, May 2nd. The event opened with a light breakfast curated by Paula Connors which preceded the presentation of awards and recognitions by chair, Professor Meredith Neuman.
First, plaques were presented to the beloved Emeriti Faculty members Virginia Mason Vaughn, “Ginger” and James Elliot, “Jay” whose presences have been sorely missed since their retirement.
Jay first came to Clark in the fall of 1971 and retired at the end of the spring semester in 2021. Over his half a century teaching here, he served as chair, ran the Institutional Research Board, developed coursework, conducted research with the American Antiquarian Society, and most importantly mentored many students and faculty alike. Clarkies may recall their time working with Jay by his instruction of The Short Story, Contemporary Literary Theory, Visions of Representations and of course, by his passion for the literature of baseball which he always made sure to share.
Professor Neuman expressed gratitude for how Ginger, “helped to shape not only the English Department as you know it today but the Higgins School of Humanities, and arts at Clark generally. If you have ever grappled with topics such as ‘Performing Blackness’ on the early modern stage, Shakespeare in America, or done any work on Othello or The Tempest [Arden Edition], you have worked either directly with her scholarship or within the impressive legacy of her research and writing.”
Ginger and Jay were given plaques with photos of the Anderson House to remember their time here. Two additional plaques with their photos will be hung up in their honor “so that [they] will always be present, here in the English house [they] helped build.”
Next, certificates of achievement for the writing contest were distributed by Jay. The student-authors of recognized entries in the categories of poetry, drama, short fiction and essay may be read by clicking here. Additional students recognized include Kelsey Heyel who won the Virginia Mason Vaughan prize for the Most Outstanding Honors Thesis and Mia Davis who is the recipient of the Napier Scholars Award which provides the opportunity for a student researcher to pursue a rewarding faculty mentorship. Mia will be completing this mentorship with Esther L. Jones whose titles include Associate Provost and Dean of the Faculty as well as E. Franklin Frazier Chair of African American Literature, Theory and Culture Clark University. A congratulations was also extended to Professor Elizabeth Blake who was approved for reappointment in the tenure process by the university. Professor Neuman was also sure to recognize Professors Mandy Guttmann Gonzalez, Spencer Tricker, and Jeff Noh who all have completed their first full academic year here at the English Department. The graduating Student Office Assistants, Jordan Holley and Christina Rose Walcott were presented with plants propagated from those which live in the Anderson House as a token of our appreciation which they can carry with them.
Professor Justin Shaw then took the stage to acknowledge all of the work that has been done this year by our very own Sigma Tau Delta chapter which was revived in the fall semester. These efforts include but are not limited to organizing study hall events, book sales, facilitating student-only DEI conversations as well as the member-only formal which took place that evening. Chords were handed out to graduating members and the incoming officers were announced by the rising president, Juliana Hall. The officer appointments include Melissa Seidemann as Vice President, Cassie Mayer as secretary and Megan Engstrom as treasurer.
This wonderful celebration winded down with the whacking of a strawberry shaped piñata, a welcome change from our last piñata in the shape of the Coronavirus. Please take some time to look through the gallery of photos we have gathered from the event, there are many sweet moments captured. Thank you to all who are a part of and foster the community we have created within the English Department, this is truly a special space filled with special individuals. We look forward to seeing you in the fall. HAGS!