Faculty speak at Half-Past Three

By Morgan Jackson, Features Editor

Thursday, March 28, the English Department hosted this month’s Half-Past Three gathering.

Half-Past Three is a time for English major, minors, faculty and anyone interested in the subject to set aside a little bit of time to hear from English department faculty or guest speakers and meet and spend time with those at OBU who have a love for English, reading and writing.

This event provides everyone with the opportunity to discuss with English faculty in a more relaxed setting than the classroom.

Four English faculty members were present at this March’s gathering: Crouch-Mathis professor of Literature and English Dr. Benjamin Myers, assistant professor of English Dr. Lindsey Panxhi, Associate Dean of College of Humanities and Social Sciences Division Chair, Language and Literature and professor of English Dr. Christopher Hair and associate professor of English and Spanish Dr. Charles Swadley.

Held in a room in the upper Geiger Center, this month’s gathering was focused on why students should, at the very least, consider being an English major or minor. Myers led an insightful discussion over the topic.

Myers was formerly the Poet Laureate for the State of Oklahoma. He currently teaches a multitude of English classes at OBU, including Western Civilization and Creative Writing.

During his lecture, Myers gave information about becoming an English major at OBU and defended the major against criticisms it: that it is unreasonable or impractical.

Myers encouraged students to pursue fields and careers that they love, and ones that they will want to do their entire lives.

For many students, English and reading are things that they feel a pull to, but do not pursue as viable career options due to the lack of understanding about the possibility that having an English degree brings.

Often, there is much apprehension surrounding a student pursuing an English degree from a parent.

“What you’re doing in your education is laying a foundation,” Myers said.

He said that having an English degree will open up job possibilities because of the writing, communication and critical thinking skills that a student would learn during the process of obtaining that degree.

It is also important to note that English is a very popular undergraduate degree for those planning to study law in the future.

Other beneficial aspect about Half Past Three is the opportunity to ask questions of the English faculty. They are genuinely interested in what students have to say and want to help find an answer to those questions.

Panxhi elaborated on a question from a student. The question was “Why minor in English?”

Panxhi cited many similar reasons to Myers. She also encouraged students to fulfill their dreams and passions in the literary world.

Panxhi also shared her experience of wanting to do something with reading and writing when she was in high school. She went to John Brown University and pursued English as a career.

Another option for students who love literature and English is to take courses as electives.

This gives students an avenue to explore their love for the subject without having to commit to an English degree.

The faculty presented important information regarding what is required to minor in English.

According to resources posted on okbu.edu, the English minor requires 18 to 19 hours of selected English courses. There are many different course options to choose from to fulfill these requirements.

Overall, it is evident that those present at Half Past Three are passionate about what they do and teach and are excited to share the possibilities of English with students.

At the end of the event, students were encouraged to stay and discuss their thoughts with faculty members, who were happy to discuss student’s academic plans with them.

Literature community meets to learn

By Jonathan Soder, Features Editor

Walk into room 212 in the Upper GC on any given third Thursday of the month and one might find that there is a professor donning a tweed jacket presenting highly-specialized research or reciting a bit of poetry.

This is Half Past Three, a monthly gathering for students majoring, minoring or simply interested in English and its related disciplines.

“We get together and have refreshments, snacks and socialize,” Crouch-Mathis professor of literature and professor of English Dr. Benjamin Myers said, “and then usually there’s a speaker on some aspect of literary life or English education. Basically, it’s community time for anyone affiliated with the English department.”

Half Past Three unofficially began five or six years ago, Myers said, as time for those in the English department to get together and enjoy one another’s company, maybe play some board games.

From there, the meetings progressed to snack time and mingling in the English hallway of Owens Hall.

“That was good, but, you know, it was sort of people would come in, have a snack, joke around for a while and leave,” Myers said, “and it wasn’t really helping anyone’s sense of what it means to study literature from an outside-the-classroom point of view – understanding that we’re not just English majors when we’re in our English classes, but we’re people of letters, literary people.”

Half Past Three was formalized after this as a way to actualize the desire to have intellectually stimulating, but also outside-the-class-room not-for-a-grade, fellowship among those in the English department.

This was accomplished primarily through the inclusion of guest speakers at every meeting.

“There’s still standing around with cookies and coffee and chatting,” Myers said, “but now there’s also time to think together without getting a grade for it.”

Guest speakers are often OBU professors presenting their personal research.

However, speakers outside of OBU, as well as students, are also given the stage at times.

This semester’s schedule included OBU’s own assistant professor of English Dr. Alan Noble as the first presenter.

He read a portion of his recently released book “Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age” to Half Past Three last Thursday, Sept. 20.

Upcoming speakers include assistant headmaster of The Academy of Classical Christian Studies Casey Shutt Oct. 25 and OBU assistant professor of English Dr. Lindsey Panxhi Nov. 25.

Student presentations won’t occur until the spring semester most likely. Senior English major Chloe Harrison was one of the students to present last spring.

She read from her paper “Inescapable Suffering: The Dangerous Otherworld in Sir Orfeo,” which explored the topic of suffering even in paradise settings.

“I liked it because, instead of just writing a paper in your class and the only person who sees it is that one professor who assigned it… [you get] to present it and have everyone ask you questions,” Harrison said. “It tends to make you think more fully about what you researched and maybe if you want to pursue that further down the line.”

Though a senior, Harrison didn’t start regularly attending Half Past Three until her junior year, when, she said, it was better advertised.

One benefit of attending for Harrison has been the very camaraderie which Myers hoped to establish when he first began the un-official hallway snack times.

In regard to presentations, Harrison said Panxhi’s presentation regarding making decisions about master’s work was not only enjoyable, but also helpful in a practical sense.

“Even though I’ve decided that I’m not going to grad school, it helped me work through that,” Harrison said.

Noble’s book presentation was a highlight for sophomore English major Jonathan Wood.

However, even more than Noble’s presentation, he enjoyed one of the more informal meetings which took place around finals week last year.

“They had a poetry day, and you could come up and read poetry,” Wood said. “Dr. Myers read some things – pretty much all the faculty presented. “I read “Leda and the Swan” by William Butler Yeats and that was really entertaining. It was just a good time to remember why we enjoy poetry.”

Half Past Three’s next meeting is set for Oct. 25 in room 212 of the Upper GC.

Though English and literature focused, the meeting is not exclusive to English or related majors.

Any students desiring to commune with other lovers of literature are welcome Myers said.