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Student to Present at National English Honor Society Convention

Released: 01/16/2008

Philemon Chapman, an LSU at Alexandria senior English major from Bayou Chicot, has been chosen to present his critical essay "Wild Classifications" at this year''s Sigma Tau Delta convention in Louisville, Ky. Sigma Tau Delta is one of the oldest and most prestigious international English honor societies.

"This notification is what English teachers dream their students will receive," said Dr. Ginger Jones, faculty sponsor of Sigma Tau Delta at LSUA. "To be selected as a presenter at this convention is a rare and lofty honor."

"Wild Classifications" is an examination of one of the earliest British novels, "Jonathan Wild," a biography of one of London''s most famous pickpockets written by Henry Fielding of "Pamela/Shamela" fame. Chapman, a graduate of Bayou Chicot High School, concluded that "Jonathan Wild," while showing characteristics of what evolved into modern novels, more resembles "a work of romance with a hint of satire."

Chapman''s essay was written in The Novel, a class which focuses on the novel as a distinctively modern contribution to literary tradition and an individual''s relationship to society. It is taught by Dr. Seth Bovey, who praised Chapman for "unique insights and the ability to make connections. His writing is dynamite, extraordinary for an undergraduate student. This recognition is richly deserved."

Headliners at the Sigma Tau Delta convention include Pulitzer Prize- and MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, Pushkart Prize-winning poet Naomi Shihab-Nye, and Kim Edwards, who wrote best-seller "Memory Keeper''s Daughter." Jones said Chapman will meet those and many other literary luminaries in Louisville.

Chapman, 25, will read his essay and take questions at one of the convention''s primary sessions. The four-day meeting starts March 4.

Chapman is considering graduate school or a career in journalism after his graduation from LSUA in May. "I deeply appreciate the stimulating instruction and encouragement that I have received from the English faculty," Chapman said. "I work in addition to going to school, and these professors have kept me focused."