by Taylor Spies, contributor to the Underground
The Gamma Psi Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the National honor society for students majoring in English, held a Gothic and Horror Fiction Open Mic Night on the third floor of Arts and Letters Hall on Monday, October 30th at 6pm. The event was small, but the intimate environment was perfect for ghost stories.
Chapter President Bintou Sy began by greeting those that had gathered and introducing Associate Professor and Director of the Undergraduate Program, Jennifer Conary. Conary gave an overview of the origins of the gothic novel and how we interpret the genre today. It was easy to tell that Conary was passionate about her topic, and her warm voice invited the audience to become intrigued by the gothic, stating, “Gothic novels offer physical manifestations of psychological horrors or fears.”
The first reader, Hannah Cantafio, read a short story from the novel Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, published in 2005. “Dog Years” follows a rich and mysterious wheelchair-bound man. Her words came quick and clear, painting the picture the author created.
The next reader was Assistant Director of Graduate Programs, Janet L. Hickey. Hickey read from The Book of Irish Weirdness by Mairtin O’Griofa, published in 1997. The book showcases short stories by well-known authors. Hickey read “The Judge’s House” by Bram Stoker. This was quite a step back in time as the story was originally published in 1891. However, the story had gotten no less eerie with age, and, followed a student renting out a house rumored to be haunted.
Assistant Professor Bill Johnson González read the next piece, a chapter from The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, published in 1984, titled “Geraldo No Last Name.” This piece varied strikingly from the traditional Gothic. González expressed his attempt to find a piece of gothic writing by someone with a Latino or Hispanic background.
Associate Professor and Chair Michele Morano gave the final reading. She read excerpts from a short story by William Faulkner, published in 1930, titled “A Rose for Emily.” This story follows an eccentric lady whose behavior grows increasingly odd as she ages. She never marries, refuses to pay taxes, and dies in the same old house she was born in. It isn’t until after she has been buried that her house is investigated and the truth about her past comes out. The story’s shocking conclusion was the perfect ending to the night. The stories read drew the audience in. One became aware of Halloween’s approach, the dead leaves swirling outside, and the quickly growing darkness.