By Frances Marion Givhan
English classes separate literature into categories for the purpose of focusing and studying in depth on particular genres, but the Writing House broke down the barriers between genres as it kicked off Halloween Weekend. On Thursday, October 29, the House’s Literary Halloween Party celebrated and poked fun at various authors and characters, as well as making some laugh-out-loud literary puns. Under the guidance of housemate Ellen Boyette (C’17), the house created a scary Spotify playlist, offered Halloween themed treats (hello, candy corn), and decorated with orange fairy lights, a seasonal college cliché that perfected the atmosphere of the downstairs common room. The Writing House members set a high standard with their own costumes, but that standard was surpassed by the creativity of the party’s attendants. “I could go on and on describing the costumes,” said house co-director Zack Loehle (C’17). “People went above and beyond with their outfits.” Loehle chose to go as one of Hogwarts’ favorite professors, Remus Lupin, from the Harry Potter series. “He’s always been one of my favorite characters from the series. Plus, it’s fun to dress up as a wizard werewolf,” he said.
Loehle portrayed a modern fantasy character, but the diversity of genres represented just by the housemates and party patrons was extraordinary. Resident Poets’ Society leader Sara Kachelman (C’17) put together a haunting wedding dress, veil, and disheveled make up combination as Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Three members represented authors, including Boyette as Sylvia Plath (complete with oven), Colin Harper (C’17) as David Foster Wallace, and Jack Russell (C’17) as Hunter S. Thompson. The party was not only meant to inspire conversation about literature, though. The house also offered a light-up green Razor scooter as a prize for the best costume, as voted on by the patrons. Boyette announced the winner during the festivities. The sight of her on the stairs with the scooter raised in her oven-mitted hands compelled the noise in the house to settle to a low thrum. The votes were in and counted, and quite appropriately, Miller Dew (C’19) won with her costume as the green light from The Great Gatsby. Even her makeup and boots were green, and she had fairy lights that she turned on throughout the night. “Her costume was brilliant,” said Loehle, “as was Lily Davenport’s (C’16) as A Farewell to Arms and Ben McKenzie’s (C’17) A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” Davenport and McKenzie represented the funniest, or rather punniest, kinds of costumes. Davenport spent a majority of the party with her arms inside her shirt, while McKenzie wore a blazer and held an empty picture frame in his hands. “I had just gotten out of class and was struggling to figure out what to wear to the party when I walked by a picture frame,” he said. “Suddenly I thought about A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and everything clicked.” As with most Halloween costumes, it became a game to see who could guess his costume simply by him putting the picture frame over his face. A surprising and pleasing number of people understood the joke.
“Except for people slitting Will Cunningham’s (C’17) stomach for sacrifice, the night went well,” said Kachleman. The Writing House wants to thank everyone who came to the party and encourages the campus to join them for more literary and writing themed events. Stay creative and keep reading!
Panel discusses costume
By Bess Pearson
It’s a warm, partly cloudy Wednesday afternoon. Bodies begin to crowd into the Social Lodge on Georgia Avenue. A long table with six speakers, Myranda Gonzalez (C’18), Micah Nicholas (C’17), Gabriela Ruiz Blake (C’16), Will Downey (C’16), Eunice Muchemi (C’19), David Terrell (C’17) , and Rachel Chu (C’17), of diverse thought and backgrounds lines the front of the room while students, faculty, and community members file into the neatly placed rows of chairs. Each audience member is given a slip of paper and a pen to write questions they would like to hear the panelists answer. Some members appropriation of African American Alliance, who put on the event, stand on the side of room, observing the conversation and taking audience questions up to the panelists.
The conversation begins with more general questions like what the panelists would describe as cultural appropriation and how one could dress up for Halloween without appropriating another culture. As the conversation moved along, the questions became more specific and disagreements were sparked between panelists and the crowd, alike making for a lively conversation. When asked about the thought behind the panel, organizer Cindy Cruz (C’18) answered, “It was a continued effort by AAA to have this discussion from last year, although much in a different format. Last year’s discussion involved several professors, who gave lectures based off of their intellect and studies. But their presentations did not hit the mark of the issues, rather wasted time and created a classroom feel. This time around with the assistance of a mediator, Professor Schneider, panelists answered anonymous questions and lead the conversation amongst the crowd.”
It was universally agreed upon by the panelists that appropriation is a problem at Sewanee. Panelist Chu stated, “Appropriation is a problem at Sewanee. Themed parties and costumes within the Greek system are often problematic because they rely on false stereotypes about certain races and ethnicities that have caused people to be discriminated against.” Chu was especially vocal when it came to issues of appropriation within fashion and other commercial industries. Terrell nicely summed up the event saying, “The panel went well, much better than the last. Every panelist spoke, I believe, from their point of view and with honesty. At times, it got heated, but that was needed. To have change, you must be willing to be uncomfortable.” When asked how we as a community should move forward, Terrell replied, “Research and ask questions. You will never know until you ask. It’s possible to avoid ignorance.”