On Saturday, March 3, Fairmont State University will host students from around the state in the annual West Virginia Undergraduate Literary Symposium.
Beginning at 9 a.m. with the opening remarks of FSU Provost Christina Lavorata, the day is set aside to celebrate literary scholarship and “foster intellectual discourse,” said Dr. Angela Schwer, Professor of English and symposium coordinator. The public is invited to attend the panel presentations that will be held throughout the day in the Falcon Center third floor conference rooms.
Students from Shepherd University, West Liberty University, Concord University, Wheeling Jesuit University, West Virginia University and Marshall University will attend the Symposium, as well as four students from Fairmont State. Rachel Romeo, Tacy Layne, Brittany Sypolt and Kathleen Cox will all be presenting papers.
“It's a huge honor to be selected to participate in the Literary Symposium and to represent Fairmont State University,” said Kathleen Cox, a Regents Bachelor of Arts Degree Program student. “It's an amazing story, and I am really excited to have the chance to talk about it at the Symposium. My goal with this paper has always been to have people say, ‘That's a new and interesting way of looking at Rebecca Harding Davis' Life in the Iron Mills.’ I wanted to bring a fresh and unique approach to the text. I hope my presentation will make people who have never read the story want to read it, but I would really love to motivate people who know and love the story to read it again and get something new and wonderful from it that they had never considered before.”
The papers will be presented in panels of three or four speakers, with eight panels in total. Papers were grouped according to theme and some of the topics include Biographical Influences, Fantasy and Popular Culture and Empowered/Disempowered Women. Session 1, which will have the first three panels running simultaneously, begins at 9:30 a.m. Session 2 begins at 10:45 a.m. Session 3 begins at 1:15 p.m. in the Falcon Center third floor conference center. Each of these sessions will be approximately an hour, with time set aside for questions after the papers have been presented.
One of the highlights of this year’s conference is the keynote speaker, Dr. Angela Rehbein, Assistant Professor of English at West Liberty University. Rehbein is a 2002 alumna of FSU where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. In 2005 she earned a Master of Arts degree in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in 2011. Rehbein has focused research in 18th century British literature, British women writers, postcolonial literature and theory and women’s and gender studies. The instructor of Jane Austen and Popular Culture, Women and Minority Writers and Freshman English 1 will be speaking during the break for lunch from 12:15 p.m. until 1 p.m. The luncheon is an invitation only event.
Writers submitted 35 papers for this year’s conference. Program committee members selected 27 entries for the symposium. The three members of the committee are all members of the Department of Language and Literature: Dr. Matthew Hokom, Dr. Donna J. Long and Dr. James Matthews.
This year, a new tactic is being tried in order to promote insightful questions—presenters will receive copies of their co-panelists’ papers, so that they can read them beforehand. One of the goals of the conference is to make students realize that their papers have relevance outside the classroom, Schwer said.
Awards will also be given at this year’s event, with $100, $75 and $50 prizes going to the students who manage to impress the judges with their essay. Criteria for these awards include: clarity and sophistication of main idea, quality of support, originality and creativity with their topics, facility with language and literary style and presentation itself.
Judging for the awards will be done by faculty members from West Liberty University, Shepherd University, Concord University and Fairmont State University.
Further questions should be directed to Dr. Angela Schwer at Angela.Schwer@fairmontstate.edu.