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We, the faculty in the Department of English and Modern Languages at Shepherd University, feel compelled in this moment to declare emphatically and unequivocally that BLACK LIVES MATTER. Ours is not a declaration stimulated by George Floyd’s brutal and horrific murder on May 25th, nor is it a response triggered by the killings of Breonna Taylor or Ahmaud Arbery. Those, sadly, are only the most recent examples of black lives being destroyed by widespread social, societal, and systemic racism in this country. When the first black bodies were brought to the Jamestown settlement in 1619, our nation began its centuries-long pattern of prioritizing white lives over black lives. That devaluing of black lives continues to this day. Enough is enough! Our commitment to educational equality can only begin, we believe, when we as a faculty and we as a country begin to redress longstanding wrongs by affirming that BLACK LIVES MATTER. We declare that here, now, and always. Read more.

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Department News

Four Shepherd University English majors led a roundtable discussion titled “Metamorphosis and the Female Voice in Literature and Culture” during the Sigma Tau Delta International Convention, which took place virtually this year on March 26th. Ashley Hess and Sarah Seibert, both of Martinsburg, Isabella Sager of Harpers Ferry, and Vivienne Wells of Charles Town participated in the event. The students prepared a pre-recorded video presentation where each introduced her particular critical take on the topic. Hess focused on the female voice in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Sager examined Cassandra, a novel by Christa Wolf, while Seibert looked at Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Both showed how female characters used silence strategically to access a new kind of voice and power. Wells focused on contemporary stand-up comedy, including Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette, and illustrated how that medium can be used to open up new conversations about voice and gender. Dr. Heidi Hanrahan, Professor of English and chapter sponsor, said with the shift to an all-virtual, all roundtable format, the application process for this year’s convention was particularly competitive; nevertheless, the audience was impressed with the students’ work. Well done Ashley, Isabella, Sarah, and Vivienne! You make us very proud.

The Department of English and Modern Languages is proud to announce that this semester’s English Capstone presentations will be held on Tuesday, April 20th, from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. and on Thursday, April 22nd, from 4:45 to 6:00 p.m. Out of a concern for health and safety, this semester’s presentations will be held virtually in on-line events. Tuesdays presenters are

The presenters on Thursday will be

Friends, family, and community members are welcome to attend the presentations. They will be via Zoom. The Meeting ID is 201 930 2288, and 2pcccz is the Passcode.

The Sans Merci Editorial Staff is excited to announce that they will be hosting a live reading and release event for Sans Merci Volume 45 on Zoom on Wednesday, April 21st at 7:00 p.m. Please come out to hear our wonderful authors read a selection of their work! The Zoom link for the event is For more information, contact Fiona Tracey at

This Friday, April 2nd, the Society for Creative Writing in the Department of English and Modern Languages will share the latest installment of the AT HOME WITH POETRY series. This week’s video will feature Moroccan beat poet El Habib Louai. El Habib Louai is the author of Mrs. Jones Will Not Know: Poems of a Desperate Rebel and Rotten Wounds Embalmed with Tar, which was a finalist for the 2020 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poetry. Louai traveled widely to meet some of the Beats who were still alive and performed his poems at Moe’s Book in Berkeley, Oxford Modern Art Gallery, Spoken Word Paris, Tottenham Chances in London, and Exiled Writers Ink in London. His articles, poems, and Arabic translations of Beat poets have appeared in Big Bridge Magazine, Ragged Lion Press, Illanot Review, and Arab Lit Quarterly, among several others. His reading will available on the Society for Creative Writing’s website: Upcoming installments of the AT HOME WITH POETRY series will feature Annie Kim, author of Eros, Unbroken and Winner of the 2019 Washington Prize, and Hannah Dow, author of Rosarium. 

The Rude Mechanicals Medieval and Renaissance Players will present three plays written by Shepherd University English majors in Reynolds Hall in April: The Bird by Abigail McClung, The Dream Girl by L Harvey, and Wishing You Were Here by Frank Santiago-Cabrera. The schedule of performances is:

Shepherd University students in the cast and crew include Courtney Bell, Trey Criner, Victoria Fairchild, Brynae Harrod, L Harvey, Lydia King, Dannah Lohr, Sean Miller, Olivia Stevens, and Jack Shackleford.

Safety Protocols. There is no charge for tickets, but reservations are required.  Audience members must wear masks at all times, and seating will be socially distanced, with no more than 24 audience members per performance.  Audience members must arrive outside Reynolds Hall 15 minutes prior to the performance.   Latecomers will not be seated.  Running time for each performance is approximately 70 minutes.  To make reservations, email Dr. Betty Ellzey (