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Susquehanna Hosts Northeast Modern Language Association Convention

Published on April 7, 2014

More than a dozen English and creative writing majors at Susquehanna University had a unique opportunity to help plan and organize the 2014 annual convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) held in April at the Harrisburg (Pa.) Hilton and Crowne Plaza.NeMLANeMLA

NeMLA is an organization that brings together scholars of English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and other modern languages. Members include faculty and students from throughout the northeastern United States and eastern Canada.

As the host institution for this year’s convention, Susquehanna faculty members worked with the association’s board of directors to develop the convention theme and to recommend speakers and special events. The university also provided two student representatives to the board who researched sites of local interest and helped coordinate tours that would appeal to scholars and their families. Those representatives—seniors Amanda Chase of La Mesa, Calif., an English major, and Sarah-Jane Abate of Montrose, Pa., a creative writing major—also recruited about a dozen additional students to help run the registration desk.

“While all other host institutions have given these representative positions and work opportunities to graduate students, Susquehanna is the first to offer these opportunities to undergraduates,” said Professor of English Laurence Roth. “They've done a superb job, and the board feels their work has been among the best of all previous student representatives.”

Fourteen faculty members from Susquehanna University’s Department of English & Creative Writing, as well as from the theatre and modern languages departments, served as session chairs, presented their scholarly research or read from their creative work.

For example, on April 5, Modern Language Studies, the scholarly journal of NeMLA edited by Roth, sponsored a creative writing session called “Place, Influence, Writing,” featuring faculty from Susquehanna’s Writers Institute. Professors read from their own work that they believe has been influenced by living in the Susquehanna River Valley. Also that day Assistant Professor of English Angelique Nixon gave a poetry reading at a diversity program event, “Saltwater Healing—Myth, Memoir and Poems.”

A small taste of the convention was previewed on campus April 2, when best-selling author George Saunders gave a free, public reading at Susquehanna University’s Isaacs Auditorium, sponsored by the Raji-Syman Visiting Writer series. The university also shared him as a speaker with the NeMLA convention.

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