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.

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.