January 13, 2023

The English Department hosts a variety of opportunities for CHaSS students to connect with each other and faculty advisors. Student-led clubs are a fun opportunity to get involved, grow, and build community here at USU.

The English Club is a community for those who love to read, write, and engage with the English language. The club frequently hosts events where students may write and share their creations. For example, students have explored concrete poetry at Cut-Up Poetry Night. In the Fall semester, the English Club held a Poe in the Dark event full of “spooky stories, scary treats, games, and a costume contest.” Christine Cooper-Rompato, the faculty advisor for this club, can answer questions about this club through her email christine.rompato@usu.edu.

One club geared specifically toward creative writers is The Bull Pen. Students who are interested in communion with other creative writers are welcome to reach out to the Academic Advisor, John Engler, through theususbullpen@gmail.com. This club hosts meetings with published writers and professors who discuss writing techniques to help students hone their craft. Other times, meetings consist of workshops for students to give and receive feedback on their current projects. On top of weekly meetings, The Bull Pen sponsors a Slam Poetry Team.

John reflects, “Last year was the first time I attended the club slam event at the Helicon West reading in the Thatcher mansion. I said it that night, and I stand by it: Just a few days earlier, I attended the Billie Eilish concert in Salt Lake with my 14-year-old daughter. Billie does a great show, but I was honestly more moved by the poetry performed by the Slam Team than I was by Billie’s concert. It was astonishing—and for a number of the readers, their first slam performance. They make USU proud!”

For those with an interest in folklore, the department offers a Folklore Club. This organization presents a myriad of unique activities for students. In the past, the club coordinated a haunted graveyard tour, a pumpkin carving contest with toys and stuffed animals, a presentation on the folklore of unicorns, and a ghost hunt through the Ray B. West and Old Main buildings. Many of these events involve panel discussions. The Folklore Club balances gracefully on the razor’s edge between the pursuits of fun and knowledge.

John Priegnitz, the club president, says, “My favorite event so far is the Anthropology Club, Museum of Anthropology, and Folklore Club’s collaboration for the recent haunted museum tour, ghost hunt, and panel discussion. We had between 60-65 students show up for this event, and I couldn't have been more pleased! The event, while fun, was an excellent opportunity to provide visibility and awareness to not only the museum and clubs, but also to let students who are interested in these subjects know there are academic disciplines that study these subjects.”

For more information, John is available at john.priegnitz@usu.edu. He remarks, “The Folklore Club is about having fun while promoting the discipline of Folklore and the Folklore Studies program at Utah State University. You do not have to be a folklorist to join or participate. If you have a love for anything folklore related, then you will find yourself at home within our club.” Club activities are held once or twice a month on Wednesdays. Flyers about these events are often posted on bulletin boards around Ray B. West.

The English Department also houses a chapter of the International English Honors Society, Sigma Tau Delta. The chapter supports high-achieving students and hosts events throughout the school year, such as Trivia Nights. Recently, the statewide chapter of Sigma Tau Delta met in Salt Lake City to attend a talk given by United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. Joy Harjo is the first Native American to be appointed Poet Laureate of the United States. Harjo began her talk by reading her poem “I Give You Back” from her first memoir Crazy, Brave, and she shared that the idea for the poem originated when she was an undergraduate at the University of New Mexico. She did not plan to be a writer and started out as a pre-Med major; however, she was a member of the Native American student club, and they became involved in a number of social justice actions, especially regarding uranium mining on the Navajo and Pueblo Reservations. Harjo said, “that’s where my poetry started by listening to those eloquent testimonies and song languages of the people, and that’s what brought the poetry.” Brigham City English Major Jimmy Shupe said, “It was a transcendent evening wherein the words spoken connected all present in a shared humanity.” For more information about joining the statewide chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, please contact Dr. Michaelann Nelson at michaelann.nelson@usu.edu.

More information about activities, clubs, and programs for students can be found on bulletin boards around Ray B. West and under the Get Involved  tab on the department’s website.