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English students, faculty celebrate women writers in Sigma Tau Delta discussion

Ohio Northern University's Sigma Tau Delta celebrated women writers on March 20 in a discussion and reading event in Heterick Memorial Library (Northern Review photo/Kasy Long)

Ohio Northern University's Sigma Tau Delta celebrated women writers on March 20 in a discussion and reading event in Heterick Memorial Library (Northern Review photo/Kasy Long)

Women can be adventurers, like Amelia Earnhardt. They can be scientists, like Marie Curie, and they can be leaders, like Queen Elizabeth II, Eleanor Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, Helen Keller and Rosa Parks.

In celebration of Women’s History Month, members of Ohio Northern University’s international English honorary society, Sigma Tau Delta, and Department of English faculty have featured feminist literary works on campus this month.

“The discussions we have [about these texts] make literature come alive,” addressed Douglas Dowland, assistant professor of English and Sigma Tau Delta chapter adviser, at a special spring literary discussion on March 20 in Heterick Memorial Library.

Literature helps us shed our differences,” Dowland commented.

A variety of literary material was discussed, including works by some of the most influential women writers in history, and others about current issues by contemporary authors. These texts included:

  • “Why I March: Images from the Woman’s March Around the World” from Abrams Books (read by ONU Department of English Chair Lisa Robeson, who attended the 2017 Woman’s March on Washington)
  • “Men Explain Things to Me” by Rebecca Solnit (read by Sigma Tau Delta President Rachel Cruea)
  • “What is This Thing Called Love?” by Kim Addonizo (read by Cruea)
  • “Dark Sparkler” by Amber Tamblyn (read by Sigma Tau Delta Vice President Sofie Moeller)
  • “One Secret Thing” by Sharon Olds (read by Kelley Lewis)
  • Poetry by Emily Dickinson (read by Sigma Tau Delta Historian Kasy Long)
  • “Elm” by Sylvia Plath (read by Erika Mortimer)
  • Poetry by Mina Loy (read by Olivia D'Agostino)
  • “Sleeping with the Dictionary” by Harryette Mullen (read by Sigma Tau Delta Secretary Katie Kuchefski)
  • “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe (read by Dominic Turnea)
  • “The Cancer Journals” by Audre Lorde (read by Douglas Dowland)

“She [Plath] cared enough about these issues and her feelings to still write them down,” reflected Mortimer on why the poet felt it was necessary to write down her personal thoughts before committing suicide in 1963.

Turnea also commented, “‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ is still a relevant piece of work today. Women can write on controversial topics, like slavery, but at the same time inspire change.”

Many faculty and staff attended the event to support the emerging writers in the Department of English. Dowland asked these experienced writers, poets and professional writers to mentor tomorrow’s women writers. “Help us shed our differences,” he said.

Tena Roepke, interim dean for the Getty College of Arts & Sciences, advised, “Have confidence in yourself and bring that confidence to others.”

Don’t let gender stereotypes stop you from doing anything,” added Robeson.

Bringing the issue into the classroom, the Department of English offers a Topics in Fiction and Women’s Literature course.