News Briefs September 11, 2013

Summer Reading Author Participates in English Department Programs
By Ashley Hogan, instructor of English

As part of her visit to Meredith’s campus, author Gwendolyn Oxenham treated students in the department of English to an inspiring discussion of writing and creativity. Oxenham spoke about the process of crafting her memoir, Finding the Game, and shared writing tips and prompts to help students enliven details in their writing. The author also advised Meredith’s aspiring writers to read as much as possible, reminding them, “No one can become a successful writer without reading great writing.”

Afterward, Leslie Maxwell, ’01, introduced a lunch-time discussion about the creative process, where Oxenham answered question from students, faculty, and alumnae. “There were times I was grateful for the written medium,” Oxenham told a faculty member who asked about her transition from film production to writing. “There were some wonderful moments we didn’t get on camera, and the book gave me a chance to include those moments.” 

Students who attended the class and luncheon were inspired by Oxenham’s passion for writing and teaching and enjoyed the chance to work closely with the author. “As a writer, I often feel self-conscious about allowing the eyes of others to review my work,” said Skye Hakes, a communications major pursuing a minor in professional writing. “But Ms. Oxenham assured her audience that any good writer goes through this conflict of the mind and heart.” English major Julia Tilley said that Oxenham, “reassured me that I can find a story to write about. And once I find it, I have to commit to it with all my heart.”

Meredith to Observe Constitution Day September 17

On Tuesday, September 17, 2013, schools and colleges across the United States will celebrate, “Constitution Day,” the federal observance of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Meredith College will begin its commemoration activities on September 17 by featuring a military history exhibit from the Neustadt Collection.

The exhibit is on display in cases on the main floor and second floor of the Carlyle Campbell Library and will continue throughout the fall 2013 semester. 

On Monday September 30, at 10 a.m. in the library Meredith will hold a ceremony which both formally presents the Neustadt Exhibit, a military history exhibit featuring toy and miniature soldiers on loan from an alumna's family.

This ceremony, which serves as a continuation of the Constitution Day commemoration, will feature President Jo Allen, alumna Ginger Alexander Neustadt, Regent of the Samuel Johnston Chapter of the North Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution, Hannah Thornton, undergraduate researcher who has developed the exhibit pamphlets and labeling, and collector Bill Neustadt.  The exhibit features scenes from the American Revolution, which ultimately led to the Constitution. Patriotically themed refreshments will be served. 

Please encourage students to attend this event, sponsored by the Dept. of History and Political Science, Religious and Ethical Studies, and Sociology, and by the Library.

The Neustadt Collection is a military history exhibit made possible by the generosity of the Neustadt family in cooperation with Dan Fountain and John Kincheloe. Bill Neustadt, husband of alumna Ginger Neustadt, ’05, began collecting miniature soldiers early in life and has combined his hobby with a lifelong passion for history.

The pieces on loan in the Carlyle Campbell Library have become part of an exhibit dedicated to many periods of military history but with a particular emphasis on the great colonial conflicts leading towards the American Revolution. Scenes from colonial conflicts between the British and French as well as the British and American colonists are featured in exhibit case displays of Fort Ticonderoga and Redoubt #10 from the Battle of Yorktown.  Other cases present examples of military events, uniforms, weaponry and notable figures from many eras of warfare.

The exhibit is on display in cases on the main floor and second floor of the Carlyle Campbell Library and will continue throughout the fall 2013 semester. 

Meredith Moment: Remembering Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney’s Visit to Meredith

Acclaimed Poet Seamus Heaney, who received the 1995 Nobel Prize in literature, visited Meredith College in October 1998. Heaney died on August 30, 2013, at age 74. Professor of English Rebecca Duncan shared the following remembrance of Heaney and his impact on the Meredith College community.

The passing of Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney on August 30 was felt deeply by those who attended his 1998 reading at Meredith. Several thousand listeners filled the McIver Amphitheater on that warm and sunny October afternoon, and Heaney read generously from his growing body of work. He read again to a more intimate group the next morning, and over the course of three days he signed every book put before him and answered every question or comment that came his way. When someone commented on his patient explanations of rhythm, he said, “I was a teacher before I was a poet.” We had to pull him away from a reception to make his flight.

To honor his visit, graphic design students created broadsides of the poem “Whinlands.”  The winning design, by Kristine Pelzer, has become a sought-after Heaney artifact in several countries. North Carolina’s finest authors, from Reynolds Price to Lee Smith, gathered for a pig-pickin’ at the Page Walker House in Cary.  Heaney’s poetry and his gentle “feet on the ground” humility made a mark on us all. It was easy to think that some small part of him was ours, and the feeling returned with each new volume he published, especially the acclaimed translation of Beowulf in 1999.

These events sprang from the imagination of Betty Adcock, poet-in-residence at Meredith at the time. They were supported by the Mary Lynch Johnson chair of English and the English Department. Betty tells another story of an even earlier Raleigh connection with Heaney. The Harvard scholar and poet Helen Vendler visited Meredith in the mid-90s, and Betty took her antique-shopping at Cameron Village. Professor Vendler bought a small spirit level as a gift to Heaney, her colleague at Harvard. Not long afterwards, the world received a book of Heaney poems entitled The Spirit Level (1996). It was one more way to think of him as ours.

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