For English majors, the sign of the end of one’s time at Florida Southern is the Senior Seminar, a capstone class that results in a paper between 15 and 20 pages long and a 30-minute-long presentation.
The content of each seminar will vary as students explore different aspects of the major. Most students will be presenting critical work, and four students will perform readings from original creative works.
“What does the senior sem” —as the English majors refer to the project— “represent to me? Too much,” senior Kenz Bengry said.
Bengry is one of several students presenting at Senior Seminar who will graduate only a month after she finishes the semester, at commencement on December 15. Others include Meredith Stambaugh and Caitlin James, who are also presenting senior ‘sems’.
Each of the aforementioned is presenting critical work. Stambaugh is exploring “contact zones” in relation to Mexican-American literature; James is speaking on “Tropes of Black Womanhood in The Help, The Color Purple, and Gone With the Wind.”
Topics of criticism will vary widely from presentation to presentation; Gaelyn Crowder will discuss how Toni Morrison’s constructs masculinity and Amber Jones will speak on literary ideas of womanhood. Melissa Harnage, Katie Copeland, Greg Imhoff and Chelsea Kidd will tackle addiction, burial rituals, family dynamics and monstrousness, respectively.
I polled the senior seminar students about their emotions regarding the project. In the same vein as a number of them, regarding her senior seminar, James said “stress is the answer.”
Senior Jim McKenna, who will be presenting a selection of original poetry titled soft sxn, described himself as “addled with self-doubt.” (The Southern reported last year on McKenna’s having won a summer internship at Coffee House Press in Minneapolis.)
Senior seminar isn’t the first place McKenna has presented original work: he gave a reading at Fiat Lux last spring for his Honors Thesis presentation.
Senior seminar represents “a chance to force faculty to acknowledge queer PoC [Person of Color] poetry,” said McKenna in a message.
McKenna is one of two students presenting poetry. Shannon Sullivan, who is an English Education major, will read selections from her project, Patenting a Confession: Arguments with Guilt. She responded to a request for comment with a gif of a young boy repeatedly hitting a table.
Fiction and creative nonfiction will be represented at the presentations as well. Nick Galvez and Laramie Renew will be presenting an excerpt from a novel and a memoir, respectively.
The students presenting represent a number of educational and situational backgrounds. Six of the students are commuters and Galvez is a transfer student; Crowder is a student athlete on the women’s soccer team.
Each year, the senior seminar class is taught by a different professor; this year, the class is guided by Dr. Bravard. Last year, professor emeritus Dr. Mary Pharr led the course.
Senior Seminar will be held on the evenings of Nov. 6, 7, 12 and 14. Times vary from 4 to 6:30 depending on the evening. Inquiries may be made to Dr. Bravard.