College of Arts and Sciences

EGO Fall 2018 Call for Papers

15th Annual EGO / ΣΤΔ Conference

Thriving (or Living) in a Digital World: An Educational Opportunity

The English Graduate Organization (EGO) and the Sigma Tau Delta Phi Delta chapter of Western Illinois University call for paper or panel proposals from graduate students, undergraduate students, and faculty for our fifteenth annual conference in Macomb, IL on Friday, October 19th. and Saturday, October 20th, 2018.

In the 90s, an optimistic Al Gore promised an “information superhighway.” The infrastructure of the postwar interstate highway system transformed how Americans lived and worked, creating new kinds of living (vast suburbs), new pleasures (road trips, muscle cars), and new problems (urban blight, sprawl). The infrastructure of digital life is far larger and more disruptive than the interstates that touched only the edge of town. Our new digital infrastructure runs directly through everyone’s homes, schools, businesses, and government. Indeed, though the smartphone, it has colonized our very bodies. With it comes new kind of living (telecommuting, social media), new pleasures (tinder, trolling), and new problems (fake news, doxing). Moreover, unlike the shared public investment and governance that characterized the the interstate highways, this new digital infrastructure is entirely privatized and almost completely unregulated. It has transformed everything you can think of: work, sex, democracy, childhood, shopping, and education.  How can English Studies help us think about all this? Can we thrive in what the futurist Alvin Toffler conceptualized as “future shock,” a state of “shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time?” We invite conference participants to write about living, thriving, and learning in our new digital reality.

This year’s conference theme is Thriving (or Living) in a Digital World: An Educational Opportunity, but we welcome paper and panel proposals on any subject in English Studies. We also welcome submissions of creative work.

Keynote: Dr. Kishonna Gray is the author of Race, Gender, and Deviance in Xbox Live: Theoretical Perspectives from the Virtual Margin (Routledge 2014). She will present “Hypervisible Blackness. Invisible Narratives: the Digital Stories that Games Tell” at 7:00 PM, Friday, Oct. 19th, 2018 in 109 Morgan.

Proposals: Propose a paper or a complete panel, critical or creative. Possible topics could include but are not limited to

—Big data

—Digital Divides

—Digital film

—Fake news


—Focus on major authors

—Future Shock

—Interventions by feminist, gender, and queer theorists

—Literature for,  against, or beyond the digital

—Resistance movements, from Charlottesville to Parkland


—Shakespeare goes digital

—Virtual Violence

  • Please send 250-word abstracts or inquiries to by October 5th, 2018.
  • The English Graduate Organization / Sigma Tau Delta Conference
  • The Department of English, 124 Simpkins Hall, Macomb, IL. 61455.  309.298.1103
  • For further information, please visit our website:

Registration: EGO will inform you of your acceptance to the conference via email. Once you are accepted, all registration happens on Saturday at 8:30am in Simpkins Hall Student Lounge.

Price for Presenting: $10 (undergraduates), $15 (graduates), $20 (faculty), which includes breakfast fare and lunch. Registration fee can be paid at the conference in cash, credit card, check, or in advance by post to the following address:

EGO/STD Conference
Department of English
c/o David Banash
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455

Lodging: WIU recommends the following hotels for your stay in Macomb:



see full news release.

The Western Illinois University English Graduate Organization (EGO) and the Sigma Tau Delta undergraduate students recently hosted the 15th annual combined annual conference Saturday, Oct. 20 on the WIU campus. 

The event included panel discussion and roundtable discussions, as well as a keynote address by Kishonna Gray, assistant professor of communication and gender and women's studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The event included presentations by eight students representing six regional college, as well as 14 undergraduate students, 19 graduate students and 11 faculty members from the WIU Department of English. 

"The English Graduate Organization works to put the research that are students are developing in their coursework into a public venue beyond the classroom," said interim English Chair David Banash. "Graduate students present, and often collaborate with their professors. By going beyond the classroom, and presenting work together with their professors, the conference allows our graduate students to develop work that otherwise might be left behind after a course, to hone their presentations, and to learn how to handle the challenges of difficult questions at a public event."

Banash said many of the projects students developed for the conference eventually turn into their master's thesis, or are developed and submitted for other conferences or for publication. 

"The conference helps the graduate students build a shared culture of intellectual inquiry, experimentation and achievement here in Macomb," he said. "The conference also follows the University theme; this year it was "Thriving (or Living) in a Digital World: An Educational Opportunity."

WIU Associate Professor of English Tim Helwig serves as the chapter advisor to Western's local chapter of Sigma Tau Delta and the Midwestern Regent for the national organization. He said by hosting the organization's Midwest regional conference this year, students from seven chapters in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri were able to get a closer look at WIU's English program. 

"They saw firsthand our quality programs, our outstanding English faculty and our talented Western students," said Helwig. "Our students, in turn, had the opportunity to network and learn from other English majors in the region. We hope that many of our student presenters will go on to present their analytical and creative work at Sigma Tau Delta's annual convention to be held in St. Louis in March 2019."

Awards presented at this year's conference include: (The current English department faculty raised just over $165 to award to the top three critical papers by graduate students)

• First place: WIU English graduate student Lisa Elleson, of Galesburg, IL, for her essay, "Surviving the Ordeal: Tracking Richard's Depression in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere." 

• Second place: WIU English graduate student Nicholaus Nusbaumer, of Nixa, MO, for his essay, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted (Urban) Fantasy: How Kanye West and Richard Mayhew Overcome the Below in Order to Conquer the Above."

• Third place: WIU English graduate student Rhobie Underwood, of Andover, IL for her essay, "The Technological Representations of Desire: Revisiting Carter and The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman through 'Black Museum.'"

The WIU chapter of the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society awarded prizes of $100, $50, and $25 for the best three overall papers (critical or creative) by undergraduates:  

• First place: WIU junior English major Apryl Moore, of Chicago, for her essay "Bundren BDSM: Sadomasochism, Duty, and Meaning in As I Lay Dying's Addie Bundren"

• Second place: Sophie Jeffrey (McKendree University) for her essay, "A Resurgence of Patronage: No More Starving Artists?"

Third place (tie): Mary Arnold (Stephens College) for her essay, "The Influence of Feminism in Disney Princesses"

Third place: Joseph Schwenker (The University of Dubuque) for his essay, "The God Complex in August Williams's Fences"


Scenes from our Sigma Tau Delta Midwestern regional conference hosted by Western Illinois University today. 32 students and 10 faculty members presented critical papers and creative writing, and 8 Sigma Tau Delta Midwestern chapters participated. A great shout-out and thank you to our Midwestern Student Representatives, who traveled from Missouri and presented a dynamic recruiting workshop.

EGO/STD Conference Fall 2018

Dr. Tim Helwig with the Midwestern Student Representative Mary Arnold (Stephens College) and the Associate Student Representative Rhiannon Minster (UMKC).

EGO/STD Conference Fall 2018

Winners of the Sigma Tau Delta Undergraduate Regional Conference Paper Awards: Apryl Moore of WIU (1st place), Sophia Jeffery (2nd place), and Mary Arnold (3rd place) and Joseph Schwenker (3rd place). Congratulations!!!