by Dr. Laura S. Crawford, English Department Head and Assistant Professor of English
In February of 2021, the Judson College English Department, as part of the Humanities and Fine Arts Division, helped sponsor Judson’s 10th annual African-American Read-In, which celebrates the contributions of African-American thinkers and artists. English Department Head Dr. Laura Crawford read an excerpt from Harriet Jacobs’ 19th century novel Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, and English major Kassidy Giles of Gilbertown, Ala., performed a dramatic reading of Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen’s “Heritage.” On behalf of Dr. Billie Jean Young’s JimmyLee play cast and African-American students at Judson, senior LaShundra Walker of West Oxford, Ala., presented Dr. Stacey G. Parham, Professor of English and Vice President for Academic Affairs, with a gift for her commitment to continuing the Read-In for most of that decade.
In March of 2020, the English Department received applications from six majors and minors eligible to join the National English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta. Members of Sigma Tau Delta have access to opportunities for scholarships, conference presentations, writing awards, publications, and internships. On April 17, 2021, five of these outstanding students were officially inducted into the prestigious society during an in-person pinning ceremony. Students inducted were Whitney Mitchell, Kaitlyn Smith, Lela Ball, Kassidy Giles, and Chloe Phillips. They are pictured below with staff and faculty Sigma Tau Delta members Kate Wright, Stacey Parham, Laura Crawford, and Arwen Dillard.
English awards given at Judson’s Honors Convocation in April were presented to two seniors. Grace Terry of Atmore, Ala, recieved the Outstanding Student in English Award, and Lela Ball of Athens, Ala., was awarded the Outstanding Member of the Alpha Gamma Tau Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta Award for Academic Growth.
April also saw English majors Lela Ball and Grace Terry submit creative pieces to the online literary magazine Outrageous Fortune, created by and for undergraduates by students at Mary Baldwin University. Terry submitted a chapter from her fantasy-detective novel manuscript and Ball a short story composed for her Gothic Novel class—both were accepted. On April 9th, Terry, along with four other Judson seniors, gave her Honors Program presentation to an in-person and live-streamed audience. In her thesis titled, “The Great Conspiracy: Conrad, Anti-colonialism, and the Imperial Cult,” Terry, a double major in English and psychology, explored the intersection of cult psychology and post-colonial theory in the Victorian novel Heart of Darkness. Co-sponsored by Dr. Crawford in English and Ms. Stephanie Peek, Head of Religious Studies, Grace enjoyed the honor of completing the first English honors program thesis in a decade.
Senior Kassidy Giles, a double-major in English and Art with a minor journalism, completed a journalism internship with Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center (BBTCAC) in Camden, Ala. Over the course of her internship she conducted interview and wrote articles about six Alabama artists. All six articles were published by multiple newspapers across the state.
Ball and Giles also presented conference-style papers at a mock literary conference on April 28th as the capstone project for their Senior Seminar course in literary criticism.
While the department experienced many joyful moments at work and at play during the spring semester, it had one great loss—the loss of prestigious and beloved Artist-in-Residence, Dr. Billie Jean Young. For decades, Dr. Young had been the catalyst for both community and collegiate theatrical performances at Judson and had given her spiritual and artistic mentorship to English students privileged to participate in her plays or classes. The department is grateful that Dr. Young providentially graced the campus community with a final performance during this year’s 10th African American Read-in, at which she read Maya Angelou’s “On the Pulse of the Morning.”