The Lambda Xi chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society, will host the organization’s virtual Midwest Regional Conference on Saturday, Feb. 27.

The theme for the annual conference is “Turmoil, Transcendence, and the Twenties.”

Myranda Morse, a senior English major who has served as lead organizer for the conference, said chapter members developed the three-part theme together.

“The idea of turmoil felt especially prominent last year and going into this year,” she said. “We wanted to allow a space for people to bring that up and discuss how literature is engaging with that.

“From there, what will things look like moving forward? We thought about transcendence, how there is a groundwork for good change. And we thought about the ‘20s … we’re starting out a whole new decade. Is this indicative of what our lives will be like for (the next 10 years)? We decided to tackle all three themes.”

The keynote speaker will be poet, author and educator Quraysh Ali Lansana, who will speak at 1 p.m. The author of nine books of poetry, three textbooks, three children’s books and editor of a number of anthologies, Lansana has received numerous awards and has been published widely in journals and magazines.

He held faculty positions with the Writing Program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Chicago State University. He served as the director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing from 2002-11. He is currently a Fellow with the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, an adjunct professor for Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, and curriculum auditor for Tulsa Public Schools.

“Our students wanted someone who would bring a different voice to campus … one that we don’t always get to hear easily,” said Dr. Amy Gates, assistant professor of English and faculty sponsor for Missouri Southern’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter. “Quraysh Ali Lansana was a well-considered and thoughtful choice.”

The conference, which will begin at 9 a.m., will include panels on literary criticism, presentation of conference-themed criticism and creative works, Shakespeare criticism, and feminist readings of literature. Each session will include a faculty and student moderator.

Morse, who serves as the Midwestern Region Student Representative for the national organization and secretary of the Missouri Southern chapter, was one of several MSSU students responsible for organizing the virtual conference. The organizing committee includes Hunter VanValkenburg, chapter president; Sarah Haskins, treasurer; Mallorie Keltz; and Jon Newland. McKenzie Kellem, past Sigma Tau Delta president and a December 2020 graduate, also served on the committee and designed the conference logo.

The conference, which will open with a virtual open-mic event at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, is free to attend. It will include readings of scholarly works submitted by students from around the country,

To receive a full schedule and individual Zoom links to conference events, register here.