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March 8, 2012

ULM English grad students present at conference

The University of Louisiana at Monroe English Department graduate students presented at the annual Sigma Tau Delta convention in New Orleans from Feb. 29-March 3, 2012.

Four graduate students, Kaci McCourt, Serena Waller Tenison and Justina Salassi, all of West Monroe, and Selina Souza of Mashpee, Mass., presented papers based on research conducted for classes at ULM.

Dr. Jana Giles, assistant professor of English, and faculty sponsor for ULM's Beta Zeta Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, accompanied the students.

Salassi won third place for her paper presentation in the category of Critical Essay in American Literature.

Salassi presented a Saussurean interpretation of Gertrude Stein's avant-garde modernist poetry collection "Tender Buttons" titled "Naming Without Naming: Gertrude Stein's Poetic Language."

Attending the conference were over 1,000 honors students from the three major international English honor societies. Salassi's work stood out among a reported crowd of the nation's best and brightest students.

"We are delighted that such an honor was conferred upon Justina," said Giles.

"Her paper was an impressive combination of close reading and sophisticated theoretical analysis. All in all, the conference was a wonderful experience, which gave the students the opportunity to develop research and presentation skills, and to connect with peers from other universities in Louisiana and across the country. Our expectations were far exceeded."

Tenison's paper was titled "Laura Mulvey's Visual Pleasure Applied to Duigan's Production of 'Wide Sargasso Sea.'"

In it she interrogated John Duigan's 1993 film version of Jean Rhys's postcolonial novel, "Wide Sargasso Sea," which in turn is a postcolonial critique of Charlotte Brontë's 19th century novel, "Jane Eyre."

McCourt offered an interpretation of the Old English epic, "Beowulf," titled "The Spoken Monster: Grendel as Irredeemable."

Souza presented an original creative short story, "Waiting for the Tide to Change."

About Sigma Tau Delta:

Sigma Tau Delta is the International English Honor Society, founded in 1924.

Its purpose is to confer distinction for high achievement in English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate and professional studies, and to promote interest in literature, literacy and the English language both on campuses and in the local community.

The organization has over 800 active chapters around the world, and inducts approximately 9,000 members annually.

ULM's Beta Zeta Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta celebrated its 55th anniversary in 2011.

More information about Sigma Tau Delta may be found at:

Interested parties can also reach Giles at or at 318-342-1516.

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