By Alexandra Copeland
“A dream is just a nightmare with lipstick,” read senior secondary education and English major Zoe Talbot before a group of attentive professors and students as they listened in awe. Sigma Tau Delta, a national English honors society, held a Valentine’s Day Read-a-Thon on Feb. 14 in the Bliss Hall lounge where guests enjoyed cookies, coffee and the sharing of literature. It is the day of love, and not just because it is Valentine’s Day.
During this event, volunteers participated in reading sections of Toni Morrison’s “Love” from beginning to end, with students and faculty present to listen and enjoy desserts.
“Toni Morrison is our common author for the Sigma Tau Delta convention this year,” said Talbot, co-vice president of Sigma Tau Delta , who coordinated the event. “Valentine’s Day is right around Toni Morrison’s birthday, and with the theme of love we ran with it.”
Though this is the first marathon reading for most Sigma Tau Delta members at the College, this event was once an annual tradition for the honors society before Covid-19. According to English professor and Sigma Tau Delta faculty advisor Felicia Steele, the marathon-reading tradition has lasted over the past 20 years, with past readings of texts such as “The Hobbit” and Shakespeare’s sonnets.
“My favorite part of a marathon reading is that we forget about what makes literature so wonderful and that it’s a collective experience and something we all share,” Steele said. “It reminds you of the beauty of language, to move them, to make them laugh.”
The reading was open to all students, regardless of their majors. According to senior Avina Sharma, co-publicist of Sigma Tau Delta and secondary education major, holding the event in the Bliss Hall lounge was beneficial in attracting students and faculty of different programs to the event.
“This event was great exposure to non-English majors,” Sharma said. “We wanted to involve more people in [Humanities and Social Sciences], especially people who aren't English majors but who love literature and can bring different perspectives.”
This openness of the event inspired some students to volunteer on the spot, without having known about the event, such as senior international studies major Nancy Bowne.
“I was just walking by, and it was a neat opportunity to see what they were doing and participate,” Bowne said. “Since I was just walking in I didn’t know the book at all, but I felt more confident about it as I read.”
Though the event seemed to be an overall positive experience, there were also challenges, such as noise coming from the halls during passing time and a campus-wide lockdown restricting access to the building.
“It’s just one of those sacrifices you make, there were a lot of circumstances we couldn’t have predicted,” Talbot said.
Despite these challenges, the event united students and faculty from all different disciplines to enjoy a tradition that was postponed for years.
“We got a lot of involvement from across the campus,” Steele said. “Dr. Foster came, the dean came, staff from different offices on campus came. It brought us all together.”
The marathon reading also provided the opportunity for Sigma Tau Delta members to participate in a once-regular event, inspiring them to continue this tradition for years to come.
“It was really cathartic to listen to different professors and people, and it’s something I definitely want to do again,” said Talbot.