History of SASCOL

Our hopes in establishing the Southern Appalachian Student Conference on Literature were to provide students an affordable, accessible means to begin one of the more difficult aspects of a career in literary study--to participate in a live forum of ideas. Studying text in a private place with a comfortable chair differs from receiving the initial, immediate feedback about one's work when presenting to one's peers. Our conference, we hope, will help students into that transition.

Our inaugural conference took place on October 6, 2007, on the East Tennessee State University campus. Participants included students from East Tennessee State University, The University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and Emory & Henry College. Students from the disciplines of history and political science were among the English students in attendance.

Graves, Seshagiri, Weiss, Holmes
From SASCOL 2007: Achievement in Essay Award winner Jesse Graves, keynote speaker Urmila Seshagiri, and SASCOL sponsors Katherine Weiss and Thomas Alan Holmes (photo by David Wood)

Our Keynote Speakers

Our first keynote speaker was Urmila Seshagiri, an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville). Her work has appeared in Modernism/Modernity, Cultural Critique, Modern Fiction Studies, Woolf Studies Annual, The Journal of Asian American Studies, and Literature Compass. At the time of her presentation, she was completing a book about race, modernity, and the experimental modernist novel. Her specializations are British modernism, postcolonial studies, and Asian American literature. Professor Seshagiri's keynote presentation for our conference was "Atoning for Modernism: Ian McEwan, Virginia Woolf, and the Limits of Fiction." You can discover more about her work from her UT webpage.

Our second keynote speaker was Doug Reichert Powell, who presented our 2008 keynote address, "Appalachia Upside Down: Real and the Imaginary Geographies." He has received degrees from  Northeastern University (Ph.D. '99), East Tennessee State University (M.A. '92) and Washington and Lee University (B.A. '90). His publications and presentations cover subjects ranging from the 1998 manhunt for Eric Rudolph to the 1916 hanging of a circus elephant. In addition to publishing essays and reviews in Appalachian Journal, Historical Geography, and Southern Exposure, he has served as co-editor (with Anthony Harkins and Katherine Ledford) of the Media section of The Encyclopedia of Appalachia (University of Tennessee Press, 2006).  Doug's book, Critical Regionalism: Connecting Politics and Culture in the American Landscape, was published in the Spring of 2007 by the University of North Carolina Press.  He is also co-editor of Composing Other Spaces (October 2008, Hampton Press). (We have adapted this bio from his official website at Columbia College, Chicago).

For 2009, our third keynote speaker, Dr. Amy Kaufman, presented "Gender in the Middle Ages: Beyond Binaries." Dr. Kaufman is Assistant Professor of English and Women's Studies at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. Her work includes articles on gender in medieval Arthurian literature and medievalism in contemporary culture, including advertising and video games. She is area chair of Arthurian legend for the National Popular Culture Association and has recently hosted the 2007 International Conference on Medievalism. She is currently working on an article on women's bodies in Chaucerian fabliaux, editing the 2007-2008 Year's Work in Medievalism, and finishing a book tentatively titled Malory's Maidens: Female Bonding in the Morte Darthur.

Dr. Mark Noble of Georgia State University presented our 2010 keynote address. You can learn more about him on our keynote page.


Achievement in Essay Awards

Our first award for achievement in essay went to University of Tennessee-Knoxville student Jesse Graves for his paper, “Lattice Work: Formal Tendencies in the Poetry of Robert Morgan and Ron Rash.” We are pleased to announce that an extended version of his paper has been published in a special issue of Southern Quarterly dedicated to "poetry in the South." We are also pleased to announce that (now Doctor) Jesse Graves joined the East Tennessee State University English Department in fall 2009, as our new creative writing professor.

Our second award for achievement in essay went to Jessica Gilly for “’From last year, and from the year before last, and from the year before that again’: History and Culture in Beckett." We look forward to her continued success.

Another ETSU student, undergraduate Robert Kottage, took the award in our 2010 competition with his "Reading the 'Four of Cups': Divination versus Christianity in McCarthy's Blood Meridian."

Kim Steger of ETSU won the third place award for "The Role of Disguise in Shakespeare's Plays," which Dr. Westover noted for "sound arguments about its subject matter; . . . demonstrat[ing] an awareness of what, if anything, has already been written on the topic; and . . . maintain[ing] interest by being articulately and stylishly written." Second place went to Mark Michaelson of Georgia State University, whose “The Redemptive Function of Allegory in The House of the Seven Gables” offers an "articulate and convincing" argument, "put[ting] to good use contemporary critical theory without being wholly dependent upon it." ETSU's Jennifer Daniel earned the first place award for “Hester’s Half of the Sky: Chinese Support of Nina Baym’s Scarlet Conclusions,” which offers "compelling" conclusions "informed by both close reading and global awareness." Congratulations to our winners, and thanks to our judge for their contributions to this year's SASCOL.

We appreciate our SASCOL participants and look forward to another fine conference in fall 2011.