Blog

Symposium: Jamie Harker’s The Lesbian South

Harker speaking with enthusiasm to an audience member at her symposium.

Many of the best-received symposium at the University of Tampa offer something new and fascinating for students to explore alongside an expert in any given field. Of a plethora of rarely discussed topics, southern lesbian feminism was definitely something that few knew much, if anything, about. Yet Jamie Harker, author of The Lesbian South, offered the information with such experience, enthusiasm, and intrigue that most attendees left the talk with an altered perspective. Harker presented her findings on the southern subculture of lesbian feminist literature with vigor and passion. Fellow literary figure Trysh Travis describe her landmark scholarship below:


The fact that she writes not only with insight but also with genuine affection is sweet icing on a delicious—and much needed—cake.


If you happened to miss the symposium presentation you can still find her book The Lesbian South: Southern Feminists, the Women in Print Movement, and the Queer Literary Canon here.

Symposium: Mario Chard’s Land of Fire

Mario Chard discussing his flagstone book, Land of Fire

Born in Utah to an Argentinian immigrant mother and American father, author Mario Chard offers a unique and fascinating perspective on a variety of things. This becomes clear as you leaf through passages of his poetry, each more gritty and moving than the last. Land of Fire, his greatest work, has won a variety of notable accolades, from Tupelo Press’s 2016 Dorset Prize to Boston Review’s Discovery Poetry Award. The University of Tampa had the honor to host Chard recently, and students enjoyed a poetry reading and presentation from the author himself. The various Honors Symposia give students the opportunity to remain on the cutting edge of notable authors and scholars alike, many of them among the greats just as Mario Chard is.

Aquarium Assistance with Jessica Larson

Larson seated with one of the ambassador penguins at The Florida Aquarium

Seeking out your dreams and aspirations is an important aspect of college, yet one that most students save for graduation. Freshman honors student Jessica Larson, however, seized the opportunity the moment that one arrived. Rising from a impermanent assistant at the Halloween event to a consistent staff member, Larson was able to earn a position at The Florida Aquarium through persistence and perseverance.


Ever since I was young, I knew I wanted to work at an aquarium in some way. When I came to college, I was originally going to wait a semester or two to adjust before getting involved in any extracurriculars. However, because I needed hours for my Pathways class, I decided to go for it. 

Now, she gets to work with a variety of animals, including otters, penguins, and lemurs. When something special comes around, never hesitate to chase after it!

Oxford Abroad Spotlight: Emma C. Savoie

Emma overlooking the city of Oxford, England.

Headmaster of Hogwarts Albus Dumbledore once said, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” Going to Oxford University has been one of my dreams since I was little, and I cannot believe I am actually here, no longer just dwelling on, but actually living my dream. From the spires of Christ Church College, to the Great Hall, to the rigorous one-on-one tutorials and the nuanced history of the school, Oxford has met and exceeded all my expectations.

My favorite experience so far has been travelling. The OSAP program organizes several trips, and we were able to explore the Medieval Warwick Castle and Westminster at London. One of my tutorials is English Architecture, and I especially love seeing how the designs I have been studying and reconstructing fit into the buildings around England. In addition, the resources at Oxford for each of my tutorials have been incredible. I love reading in the Bodleian Libraries, especially my college library, Trinity College. All the Architecture styles I am studying, Classical, Gothic, and Norman, are present right around Oxford, and so I can go and actually see these styles and draw them on location.

The tutorials have been incredible. It is such a unique experience to get to discuss, ask questions of, and learn from an expert in your field in a setting where you get their undivided attention. I’ve written essays, constructed drawings and plans, researched, and engaged in discussion on so many topics I am interested in, and I am so grateful to the UT honors program for giving me this opportunity!

Oxford Abroad Spotlight: Eleni K. Pessemier

Eleni in front of Tom Tower at Christ Church (2019)


I was the type of kid who smuggled books into the trees I climbed and read under the covers past my bedtime (what can I say, the thug life chose me)—yet I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever loved books as much as I have since coming to Oxford. The libraries and book shops here are incredible (and everywhere), which makes working on papers feel almost easy. The biggest challenge is dealing with the temptation to take photos the whole time instead of working.


Writing twelve essays in eight weeks seemed daunting at first, but there are endless resources readily available here and tutors tend to be very personable and helpful. I have learned so much in each of my tutorials, which are on 17th-18th century literature and the development of the English language. My tutors are both experts within these fields and have given me invaluable advice that has made me a better researcher and writer. This experience has given me a new appreciation for UT as well, since my professors at home are similarly knowledgeable and willing to offer guidance.


Although we do a lot of studying here, I’ve also enjoyed more free time than expected. Tutorials require a good deal of preparation but only take up one or two hours per week. This type of schedule also frees up time for travel. OSAP plans free trips for us to famous historical sites every other weekend; I’ve gotten to see ancient Roman baths in Bath, gone on three day trips to London, and even spent a weekend in Nice, France (which is possibly the most beautiful place in the world and I highly recommend). There is also so much to see here in Oxford, from the 38 beautiful colleges to a thousand-year-old Norman church and the Eagle and Child pub where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to discuss their books.


It has truly been amazing to study English language and literature in a place where so much of what I am reading about actually happened. As the term comes to a close, I look forward to seeing more of Europe and then heading home for my last year at UT. This experience has been an unforgettable addition to my education, which I am so grateful to the Honors Program and Oxford University for making possible.

Oxford Abroad Spotlight: Diego M. Patino

Diego enjoying the snowfall in Oxford, England (2019)


Overlooking the fact that the U.K. lacks any nearby Popeyes Restaurants, Oxford has been absolutely breathtaking! To have been given the chance to study at Oxford’s world-renowned Bodleian Libraries is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. These libraries have long been the symbol of Oxford, a triumph of architectural design—so I guess you can say they are equivalent to UT’s Starbucks.


In all seriousness though, being here has helped me grow both mentally and emotionally thanks to my courses. I am currently working on tutorials in Neuropharmacology and Psychopathology. Both have challenged me to think about the same concepts in two completely different and opposing schools of thought. Nonetheless, this challenge has broadened my approach to conceptualizing mental and psychological disorders; this capability will prove invaluable in my future professional endeavors.


Since my arrival I had the chance to travel around England as well as to France, and I am still debating on which country has the best cup of coffee. Moreover, Oxford has a bunch of museums around the city. In fact, there is this new bacteria exhibit in the History of Science Museum that has a giant inflatable prokaryote hanging from the ceiling, A GIANT INFLATABLE PROKARYOTE—I have been nerding out about this for the past week There was also a dinosaur exhibit at the museum but (in my unpopular opinion) bacteria beat dinosaurs any day!


Anyway, my time here at Oxford has been amazing thus far, just have three more essays and a presentation left and I will be officially finished! Although it will be a bittersweet moment, I am looking forward to exploring England and Europe more!

Timothy M. Smith Award Recipient: Noah K. Oakley

Noah K. Oakley presenting at his symposium on January 27th, 2019

Timothy M. Smith lived his life yearning for the next horizon, always visiting new places and experiencing new cultures. His namesake award allows UT students to do just that: visit any place of their heart’s desire and research their passions. Noah Oakley was one such recipient and used his grant to travel to Lisbon, Portugal. He recently presented a symposium on his findings. See his statement below:

Portugal was not only full of myths and legends I had previous experience with, but full of stories surrounding our current issues of human rights. My initial research question going over to Portugal was to look at LGBTQIA+ culture. While I was there a law was actually passed for Gender Determination, meaning that individuals over 18 don’t have to have doctor or guardian approval to legally change their gender. What an amazing law for transgender individuals! While there, I talked with volunteers at Centro LGBT, a community center dedicated to providing resources and a safe space to members of the LGBTQIA+ community. As a queer person, it is always amazing for me to hear how other people around the world are fighting for our right to exist.

I also had plans to study gay Portuguese poets, however, I had a huge difficulty finding the texts I wanted. This was due to the Estado Novo, a fascist regime controlling Portugal from 1933 to 1974. During the regime, many aspects of life were censored, including works by the authors I had planned to study. Discovering this, a majority of my time in Portugal ended up being spent looking into this dictatorship. At the Aljube Museum of Resistance and Freedom, I learned all about the oppressive tactics the state and it’s police force instituted, and how fear was bred in the citizens. Eventually, citizens led a coup that overthrew the government. Learning about how people rose up against the regime was truly inspiring, especially when coupled with my talks with those people at Centro LGBT. These stories are ones that don’t always get told, and that’s why I wanted to focus on these items for my symposium. Stories are so important, and it’s up to us to always try and find out more stories so that way we can each rise up and provide a better future, for us and those to come. I can’t thank Lisbon enough for showing me this.