Last Wednesday, the Greyfriar Living Literature Series hosted Rachel Hall, an award winning author of the story collection Heirlooms. I attended her Craft Talk which was held during free period. Rachel Hall teaches at SUNY Geneseo.
The topic for her Craft Talk was “The Rite Stuff: Using Ritual, Repetition and Return to Shape Stories.” She discussed how ritual is and can be an important part in shaping a story.
After the Craft Talk I sat down with Rachel and asked her two questions I had, the first question I asked was, “When did you realize you wanted to write for a living?”
Like many writers, Rachel explained that it all started in a creative writing course she took in college. She noted that, “I ended up taking this fiction writing class because my roommate signed up and I just fell in love.” I also asked her what college she went to. She went to Knox College which is a small Liberal arts college in Galesburg, IL. She explained that being at Siena that day reminded her a lot of her time in college.
The next question I asked her was, “Is there a ritual you witnessed that kickstarted your fascination with ritual that made you want to write about them?”
Rachel says that the ritual that made her interested in the idea was when her and her mother and brother went to this ceremony for her deceased grandfather. They were in a cemetery in France and they placed a stone on his grave as an act of remembrance. She learned this Jewish ritual while she was there and it stuck with her. It was after this, that she became fascinated with how rituals can shape stories and how important they can be in telling stories.
Thank you so much to Rachel for coming to Siena! Check out a few of the pictures above of the amazing event!
Last Thursday, October 5th, was the 2017 Clare Center Lecture. The lecture is hosted annually with a different topic and speaker. This year the Clare Center was able to get Sister Ilia Delio to come to campus. Sr. Delio is a Franciscan sister and is based in Washington D.C.. She is also currently holds the Josephine C. Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University.
Ilia’s lecture was entitled, “Being at Home in the Universe: Lessons from Saint Francis.” She began her presentation with some introduction on global warming and the major problem this is and has been for some time. While Ilia was giving us an overview of some of the things that are happening that are destroying our planet she explained “this is not news.” She knows that we know that these problems have been present for some time now and while some things are being done to reverse the damage, a lot of people are simply ignoring the problems.
Ilia believes that climate change is a “religious problem.” By this she means that we must think of the earth as a sacred space just as we would consider a church to be a sacred space. She stated during her lecture that, “we must rethink and refeel our nature and our destiny in order to remedy the problems.” She suggested thinking about life as an encyclopedia. In this context, human beings belong in volume 30 in the encyclopedia of life, but not only are we in volume 30, but we are also on the last page and in the last sentence of that volume. By explaining human beings’ place in life, she was trying to show how little we matter in the large scheme of things.
Towards the end of her lecture she brought St. Francis into the mix. She explained how we still have time to change our mindsets just as St. Francis did with the leper. As most of us know, St. Francis despised the leper but once he came to know himself as a creature of God, he was able to embrace the leper and love again. In this context, Sr. Illia believes we as people can also change our mindsets and begin to love our earth again and save it from our destruction of it.
Ilia ended her lecture on this note: “We are part of something larger than ourselves.” This was very inspiring and left me and the audience with some words of wisdom to take with us.
What I love about the department we have at Siena is that they always are inclusive of all beliefs and ideas. Even if you’re not a religious person, I highly recommend you attend another lecture put on by the Religious Studies department.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Frankenstein is beginning to take over at Siena. Wanna know why? Because this coming year is the 200th anniversary of when Mary Shelley published Frankenstein!
If you’re a freshman, you’ve read or are going to read Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein in your First Year Seminar class. Maybe you’re even in the FYS class about Frankenstein? If you’re in an English class or another Liberal Arts class, chances are you may be reading Frankenstein this semester! Otherwise, maybe you have begun to see some of the changes on campus that are celebrating the anniversary. If you haven’t seen them yet, let me tell you about them!
- Check out the display case of Frankenstein related books as you walk into the library! (On the left side)
- If you’re on the third floor of Siena Hall, check out the electronic banner that features Frankenstein!
- Mark your calendars for October 30th and 31st. The 1931 film, Frankenstein will be shown on the 30th and the 1935 film, Bride of Frankenstein will be shown on the 31st
- Check out this link of ALL of the events that will be happening on campus over the next year on campus! – https://www.siena.edu/news-events/article/frankenstein-200-years-of-fear-and-thinking
There are lots of speakers, film presentations, and even a play to look forward to. Check back on the blog for updates on these events!
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