Red River Reading Series featuring Sigma Tau Delta

On Friday, March 25, MSU’s English honor society Sigma Tau Delta hosted a Red River Reading Series in anticipation of their conference in Denver, Colorado. The event served as a platform to present their work domestically before presenting it on a larger scale. The event entailed three sessions with one academic presentation and two creative pieces by the honor society members. 

The first presentation was given by Brandon Goins English sophomore and vice president of Sigma Tau Delta. His presentation was centered around his research on queer literature and is titled “Queer LIT on PAR”.

English sophomore Brandon Goins presents his research on queer literature, inspired by his passion on the subject, March 25.
English sophomore Brandon Goins presents his research on queer literature, inspired by his passion on the subject, March 25. (Anne Akpabio)

PAR stands for Positive Assimilation Rubric. This rubric was created by Brandon Goins through his research with Professor Fields for the EURECA Project

“I invented the positive assimilation rubric, I did not cite it from someone else and just explain it in my paper. It is my work and so I have to fully explain it and apply it to the best of my ability… I’m actively still developing it through the EURECA project with Dr.Fields, he’s been incredibly helpful and we’ve had some major breakthroughs that really helped me develop the project and  how it would be applied,” Goins said.

His work with the Positive Assimilation Rubric was inspired by a keen interest in queer young adult literature.

“Really what started it all was that queer young adult literature had a big impact on my life. I graduated from a high school with eleven people so there were like three queer people in the entire school. There weren’t many people to form a community with. So many people, especially me, ended up finding the community on the page where you’re looking and you’re finding these characters who made it out of homophobic situations or who are thriving as queer people and you look to them as your examples because if they did it, so can you. Knowing that that happened to me I thought that  must be happening to other queer young adults and so I started doing research about it and I knew I had from the very beginning wanted to research about queer literature literature because of how important I personally found it,” Goins said.

Through his work, he hopes to highlight the importance of literature in the lives of young queer adults.

“ I use quotes in my literature that talk about the importance of good books in their capacity to save lives because there have been studies done that just having access to these books, or seeing them on a shelf can reduce the chance that a queer person is going to commit suicide. Being able to see themselves represented  and to have that window you can literally save lives and there are other effects as well it can reduce truancy rates and it can reduce drug abuse. Seeing yourself self-reflected in that literature and seeing someone successfully existing as a queer person  is incredibly impactful when you are forming your own identity especially when you have no one who is queer and existing as a queer person to look to on a day-to-day basis,” Goins said.

 The second presentation was given by Michaela Aleman English junior and treasurer for Sigma Tau Delta. Her piece focused on her life experience and entailed a transition between the thoughts and struggles of her younger self and the journey to her current state of mind.

English junior Michaela Aleman presents her creative non-fiction piece which details her life experiences, March 25.
English junior Michaela Aleman presents her creative non-fiction piece which details her life experiences, March 25. (Anne Akpabio)

Her presentation was a creative and personal non-fiction piece detailing her experiences.

“Our only prompt was creative nonfiction and I did it in my creative writing class…the only thing we were given was that we can write about anything  and we were told, you know, the more personal the better so I really chose you know my indecisiveness with my relationship and how my parents played a part in that,” Aleman said.

Her piece was centered around vulnerability, and she spoke about that being an integral part of her work.

“I really feel like to be a writer you have to express vulnerability a little bit because with each thing you write you are giving a piece of yourself to the reader. And so I came to terms with it a long time ago that  if I want to be a writer i’m just gonna have to kind of chip away at myself with every little thing. I’m kind of okay with being vulnerable… I’m kind of okay with, you know, being open and honest with a lot of people because you know if I ever do write a novel that’s gonna be what I have to give apart away from myself,” Aleman said.

She finds her works to be an opportunity to connect with people and share herself with her audience.

“It’s very eye-opening and very worth it. I want to be a writer so that I can share those pieces of myself so people can know that they’re not alone and that there’s someone else that feels that way too so anytime I see that happening in my work I just really enjoy it,” Aleman said.

The last presentation was given by Breanna Cotner English for education senior and president of Sigma Tau Delta. Her presentation was surrounded around her love for Taylor Swift’s music and her realization while listening to her songs, that our society is based on narratives that profit the people who tell them.

English senior Breanna Cotner presents her piece based on her world view changes after listening to some of Taylor Swift's music, March 25.
English senior Breanna Cotner presents her piece based on her world view changes after listening to some of Taylor Swift’s music, March 25. (Anne Akpabio)

She speaks of the connection between Taylor Swift being essential for her writing process and how it led her to the convictions presented in her article.

“ I didn’t know what to write about so I really had nothing to go off of which is why it started with Taylor Swift because that’s how my writing process starts. I listen to Taylor Swift and I’m like what do I want to write about and I basically wrote it as it was happening to me because I felt like how I came to this realization is the way a lot of people would naturally come to this realization. It might help people understand where I’m coming from when I say things like people should have free education and people should be housed in America. I have a lot of like radical ideas and people don’t quite understand why I feel this way.  This was one of the instances that just like organically happened as to why I feel this way because I learned something while listening to Taylor Swift and I then related it to things that I’ve read that basically back that up so I really didn’t have any kind of problem and that’s that was the hard part of it” Cotner said.

She hopes that people take away the need for change when they read or listen to her work.

“I hope that they take that the world needs to change now that we have all the tools that we need to make the world the best that it can be and we just don’t use them and that’s really sad and we should so I really hope that that’s like the goal of pretty much anything that I write is like that’s the goal is like we gotta change something and we need to do it now the world’s a dumpster fire we gotta put it out yeah so I guess that would be my main take away,” Cotner said.