College of Arts and Sciences


Sigma Tau Delta Dinner and Conversations Events

Dinner and ConversationsFall 2019 Dinner and Conversations with Dr. David Banash

TOPIC: "Literary Pilgrimages"

The literary imagination connects us to our world. In the books we read, we find the traces of the people who wrote or inspired the book. We find maps of the roads they travelled, of the buildings they inhabited, the ground they walked, the landscapes that moved them and spots where they died. Rather than taking us out of the world, literature brings us back to our world, allowing us to see our own movement across the earth through new eyes, to see it connected to other lives, other times, and, at its best, to make our experience in the present ring with deeper and greater intensity because the book's imagination reverberates through us, giving us new capacities to feel and respond to the world through which we walk.

For this Dinner and Conversations evening, our theme is literary pilgrimage. Bring your own story of how a book put you out on the road, put you in touch with a landscape, a city, a monument, a battlefield, a bar, a highway, a room, or a grave. 

We'll share some of the pilgrimages we have already taken, and before the evening is out, each of us will plan a new literary pilgrimage.

WHEN: Saturday, November 16, 2019, 5:00-8:00 p.m.
WHERE: The Old Bailey House, 100 South Campbell Street, Macomb, IL 61455 

See news event for more pictures.

Dinner and Conversations Spring 2019 Dinner and Conversations with Dr. Alisha White and Mr. Stewart Ferrell

This semester's Sigma Tau Delta Dinner & Conversations event, to be hosted by Dr. Alisha White and Mr. Stewart Ferrell, will celebrate the books that inspire you to action.

Think of a book that really got your brain going and your engine revving. What books have motivated you to take action, try something new, or make a change in your life or the world around you? Be prepared to talk about the book and what it inspired you to do. Dinner will be provided, especially planned for you by Stewart.

See news event for more pictures.


Fall 2018 Dinner and Conversations with Tim and Magdelyn Helwig

Dinner and Convo Fall 2018

Poe Night: Costumes and Trivia

Saturday, November 3, 2018, 5-8pm

This semester's Sigma Tau Delta Dinner & Conversations event will celebrate the writing of the master of macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. Students and faculty, who are encouraged to attend dressed in the costume of their favorite Poe character, will compete and test their knowledge of all things Poe. Prizes for best costumes and top trivia scorers will be awarded. Dinner, including Magdelyn’s delicious Poe cookies, will be provided.

See news event for more pictures.


Fall 2017 Dinner and Conversations with Chris Morrow

Book vs. Book: A Ludiological Literary Event

Saturday, December 2 - 5:30 to 7:30 - Old Bailey House [100 S Campbell St, Macomb]

Ever wanted to pit your favorite book against other books in the ultimate test of…well…humor?  Want to see Hamlet in a fit of uncharacteristic activity do what Ahab could not and take down Moby Dick?  Is it time to see Harry Potter finally square off against Gandalf? Well, this Dinner and Conversations will give you that chance (sort of).

During our gathering, we shall engage in a game, similar to Apples to Apples, that asks us to borrow phrases from our books to answer prompts in clever, humorous, and perhaps even literary ways.  Who can marshal their favorite book in a way that speaks to the collective gathering?  Who will cut, fragment, and decontextualize their cherished book’s language in order to defeat not only other books but your peers and faculty as well!  Which book will win the day? Bring your favorite book – and feel free to dress like a character or other element from your book.

Please note:  No harm will actually come to participants, characters or physical books.

See news event for more pictures.

Dinner and Convo Fall 2017 Cake   Dinner and Convo Fall 2017

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Spring 2017 Dinner and Conversations with Magdelyn Helwig

Murder at the Old Bailey: An Evening of Sherlockian Detection. See news event for more pictures.


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Fall 2016 Dinner and Conversations with Tim Helwig

“The Cult and Visual Culture of Edgar Allan Poe”:Members of Sigma Tau Delta and English faculty are invited. This semester's Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society’s Dinner & Conversations event in November 2016, to be hosted by Dr. Tim Helwig, will discuss the ubiquity of Edgar Allan Poe and his writing in American popular culture. From “Poe-ka dot” tote bags and socks, T-shirts, candles, and air fresheners for your car, to the many bad and not so bad television and film adaptations of his works, American popular culture has helped keep Poe alive in the national consciousness and at the same time grossly misrepresents his life and times. Dr. Helwig will share insights about Poe’s writing, will “set some matters of the record straight” about Poe’s life, and will share a series of photographs and letters from Poe-important sites on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Please feel free to bring and share items from your own collection of Poe curiosities, gewgaws, and baubles!

Read this article from The Mirror and the Lamp about this event: Dinner and Conversations: Edgar Allan by Emily Swain

 Tim Helwig Dinner and Convo poe cookies

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Spring 2016 Dinner and Conversations with Roberta Di Carmine

"The Wish to Travel: Reflections on Experiencing the World through Traveling" this semester's Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society Dinner & Conversations event, to be hosted by film professor Dr. Roberta Di Carmine, will discuss the deep and lasting value of traveling and experiencing different cultures around the world. Many students participate in study abroad experiences, perhaps as a member of our very own Harry Potter summer course in England, and Dr. Di Carmine will help us to think through the impact of international travel on us as individuals. An experienced and passionate world traveler, Dr. Di Carmine will give a talk that includes a breathtaking slide show of her recent trips to Patagonia, Vietnam, Japan, Easter Island, Australia, Italy, and more! Please save the date for this potluck dinner open to English faculty and members of Sigma Tau Delta. WHEN: Friday, April 8, 2016, beginning at 5:00 p.m. WHERE: The Old Bailey House, 100 South Campbell Street, Macomb, IL Here is a link to a picture of the home:

On Friday, April 8, 2016, approximately 25 English students and faculty congregated at the Old Bailey House in downtown Macomb to enjoy an English Department tradition, Dinner and Conversations. After chatting among themselves and enjoying the delicious food provided by the faculty members, everyone made their way to the front room for the evening’s discussion. This Dinner and Conversation was hosted by Dr. Roberta Di Carmine, who shared her love of travel with those gathered through personal experiences and lots of stunning photographs. Dr. Di Carmine’s travels include trips to Australia, Argentina, Easter Island, Japan, the Netherlands, Wales, Alaska, and, of course, her home country of Italy. Through her photos and stories, Dr. Di Carmine shared the importance of experiencing other cultures and discovering that though we may live on separate continents, or even hemispheres, humans have far more similarities than differences. An engaging question-and-answer session after the presentation had students and faculty asking for more details on other cultures and sharing their own travel experiences. All attendees left with full stomachs and an appetite for travel.

Respectfully submitted,
Rebecca Gonner, Public Relations Officer
Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society

Read this article from The Mirror and the Lamp about this event: Dinner and Globalization by Molly Cameron

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Spring 2015 Dinner and Conversations with Christy Wherley

March 27, 2015 (Friday), 5:00pm-8:00pm, Alumni House

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Spring 2014 Dinner & Conversations with Alisha White

The theme is A/r/t/ography. This is a very hands on events and will be so interesting and fun! There will also be a pot luck dinner. Please contact Dr. Timothy Helwig to RSVP before Friday, February 21st, 2014.

Fall 2013 Dinner & Conversations with Barb Harroun

Thrills and Chills: Flash Horror Fiction. Gathering around the fire for flash horror readings.The host Barb Harroun begins by a reading a true horror story.

Dinner and Conversations Fall 2013   Dinner and Conversations Fall 2013   Dinner and Conversations Fall 2013   Dinner and Conversations Fall 2013

Fall 2012 Dinner & Conversations with Dr. Marjorie Allison

On Friday, September 26, 2012, more than 25 members of Sigma Tau Delta and English faculty attended a “Dinner & Conversations” event hosted by Dr. Marjorie Allison at Macomb’s historical Old Bailey House. Sheltered by one of Macomb’s oldest and most historical homes, Dr. Allison led an excellent discussion about tradition and values through the words of Confucius and Lao Tzu. As students and faculty learned about traditional Chinese culture, they also reflected on cultural structures within the United States today.

Through a discussion in the round, students and faculty explored some of the simple sayings by Confucius and his contemporary, Lao Tzu, which inspired the fortunes in Chinese Fortune Cookies. Every day, people read the quips that come with Chinese Fortune Cookies, nod or shake their heads, then throw them away with their empty rice cartons, but why, then, do we still read them? What do these little phrases actually mean? In what context did Confucius or Lao Tzu say the line that inspired the overly translated, commercialized “fortune”? What do they say about the human experience, responsibility of leadership or how to lead a “good” life?

Dr. Allison taught faculty and students the proper way to eat a Chinese Fortune Cookie, an invention by Chinese Americans in San Francisco: a person is supposed to select the cookie on top or nearest to them, and then eat the entire cookie before reading the fortune. After our discussion, everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner of Chinese and Autumn-inspired cuisine provided and prepared by the faculty.

The Dinner and Conversations was a great success and enjoyed by all, and when it was time to depart, everyone left with the wise words of Confucius, “The Master said, A horn-gourd that is neither horn nor gourd! A pretty horn-gourd indeed, a pretty horn-gourd indeed.” 

Respectfully submitted,
Kelsey McGuire, STD Secretary
Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society

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2011 Dinner and Conversations with Shazia Rahman

On Saturday, November 5, 2011, Professor Shazia Rahman hosted more than twenty members of Sigma Tau Delta and English faculty at her home for the second “Dinner & Conversations” event of the semester. Professor Rahman’s focus was on what is gained and what is lost when music from non-western parts of the world travels around the globe. Even before Zumba, non-western music was traveling and changing as it was remixed for western audiences in dance clubs.

Professor Rahman showed us several videos of Indian and Pakistani music. The first video featured two American white males dancing shirtless and doing handstands to the Indian pop song “Tunak Tunak Tun.” Then, we watched the official music video of the song, which was very upbeat and catchy. Professor Rahman’s son danced for the group during these songs: at this event, we got dinner and free entertainment! Next, Professor Rahman showed us a Qawali, a traditional and religious song involving clapping. A remix of the Qawali included no clapping, and thus the Qawali’s strong sense of community was lost.

Interestingly, Coca-Cola sponsors a popular television show in Pakistan that brings together folk and popular music. The show, which is devoted to music, airs musicians and helps to spread culture: some of the language and instruments may be slowly dying, but the show helps to preserve them. At the same time, Coca-Cola is exploiting Pakistan’s limited natural resource of water to make its product, making the international corporation’s involvement in helping to preserve non-western music a double-edged sword. I wonder if anyone was thinking about these important issues while we were drinking Coke with our potluck dinner!

Like always, the food was delicious and prepared with care by our professors. Once people finished eating, many of us hovered around the cake and waited (im)patiently for it to be cut! Professor Rahman created a relaxing atmosphere for students and faculty to watch a diverse set of music videos on YouTube and then discuss about all that is gained and lost when non-western music travels around the globe. The night was a success and produced a friendly social setting for academic exchange beyond the classroom!

Respectfully submitted,
Allison Janacek, Secretary
Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society

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2011 Dinner and Conversations: Making Zines with Rebekah Buchanan

On Friday, September 30th 2011, members of Sigma Tau Delta and English faculty attended a “Dinner & Conversation” event hosted by Professor Rebekah Buchanan at her home. During dinner, students had a chance to browse through dozens of zines of all kinds, lengths, and shapes. For those of you thinking, ‘what is a zine?’, a zine is a self-published magazine created for no profit and generally traded within a community of other zine lovers around the world. It is claimed that Benjamin Franklin was one of the first zine makers! Isn’t that neat?

After feasting on delectable homemade pizza, sliced pears and gourmet cheese, chocolate cake, and other scrumptious food prepared by faculty, Professor Buchanan explained the history of zines, including the prominent role 70’s punk played in the emergence of zines. Boy, the 70’s was an exciting time in history! There is a broad age group of people who produce zines, yet the most popular age group ranges from twenty to thirty. Professor Buchanan also discussed the influence of new technologies on the publication of zines and answered questions for us.

Afterwards, students and faculty had the opportunity to produce their own zines at a workspace set up by Professor Buchanan. Students and faculty cut out words and images from an array of popular magazines and clothing catalogues. The point is, everyone can make a zine! It doesn’t matter who, what, or where you are. Eventually, the zines we produced will be exhibited in our display case located on the first floor of Simpkins Hall next to the faculty mailroom. When they are put up, stop by, and take a look! You might be interested enough to make one yourself, or even lucky enough to find a zine resting on an empty table in the Union just waiting for someone to read.

All in all, the dinner and conversation was a great way for students and faculty to explore and learn about zine culture. It was a relaxing night to discuss a unique genre of writing, and a great excuse to use scissors!

Respectfully submitted
Allison Janacek, Secretary
Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society

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2011 Dinner and Conversations with Dr. Chris Morrow!

On April 16, 2011, more than 25 members of Sigma Tau Delta and English faculty attended the second “Dinner and Conversations” event of the year at Dr. Chris Morrow’s house. Dr. Morrow’s agenda was to show us printing techniques prior to the Digital Age and to explore the materiality of texts. We used his Vandercook No. 1 Proof Press to print a Shakespeare sonnet. And let me tell you, I felt bad for those “olde school” pressers! A lot of labor and a ton of skill and detail went into making books. Not only that, but patience as well!

We used a variety of practices from the hand press period of printing (1450-1820), including setting type, imposing, inking, registration, printing, and paper dampening. It was a very informative demonstration, and I can’t believe Dr. Morrow let us play with his “baby.” He is very knowledgeable about the life and writing of William Shakespeare, and trying to explain his love for Shakespeare is like trying to explain Stephen Hawking’s theoretical ideas to—well anyone—it’s simply unexplainable. But what can you say about a professor who has a bumper sticker in his office that says, “Will recite Shakespeare for food!” Ha! I kid, Dr. Morrow, I kid!

Dr. Morrow also showed us how to play a game called “quadrats” where each worker rolled five pieces of quadrats (or, spacing material—basically a cube with a groove or “nick” in one side) and had to see who could have the most grooves facing upward over the course of three rolls. It was sort of like “craps” for the Elizabethan time!

Again, the professors were gracious enough to feed us with some great and eclectic food—Indian Dal, Thai lettuce wraps, Mexican lasagna, and rhubarb crisp—it was a great time! Hopefully, this fun and educational tradition of “Dinner and Conversations” will continue throughout the years as it is a very good way of getting professors and students together in a more relaxed environment beyond the classroom.

Respectfully submitted,
Josh Hernandez, Secretary
Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society

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2011 Dinner and Conversations with Dr. David Banash!

On Friday, February 25th 2011, members of Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society and English faculty attended a “Dinners & Conversations” event hosted by Dr. David Banash. Dr. Mark and Amy Mossman were gracious enough to let us use their humble abode and hold this great get together. Although it did have an educational focus as we watched a film on Martha Graham and discussed the importance of craft, the event was, for the most part, a chance for students and faculty to come together in a more social setting that allowed everyone to chat about anything and everything.

We asked our professors questions about graduate school, graduate teaching assistantships, course studies, and most importantly, the upcoming baseball season! And, of course, they answered all of our questions with cool expertise! In turn, professors asked us about our future plans and gave us helpful tips on taking the GRE, writing more effective papers, focusing our research interests, and making successful presentations. Students and professors also shared with each other their methods of writing and reading. Are there specific routines we follow in order to promote creativity, and how can we become more focused when we do sit down to write?

After we viewed the Martha Graham film, the mood really lightened up and we ate delicious food from a diversity of cultures. We had some great French dishes, some food from the Middle East, some American dishes, cheeses, and a party just isn’t a party without a cake! After we ate dinner, we chatted some more, and some of us watched an exciting game of chess between Dr. Neil Baird and Dr. Mark Mossman—one which Dr. Mossman still refuses to talk about!

Overall, it was a great night—a night that allowed students and professors to come together in a relaxed setting that was both educational and entertaining.

Respectfully submitted,
Josh Hernandez, Secretary
Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society

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