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Austin College Students: Reading and Stitching
Article By: by Austin College
Posted: 12/12/2013 Views: 3995  Impressions: 14979
Categories: Education, Entertainment: The Arts

SHERMAN, TEXAS-Austin College students in the English course "19th-Century Visions & Revisions" have used a variety of means to examine the works in American literature in the course taught by Randi Tanglen, assistant professor of English. One of the most interesting tools for that examination was creation of a quilt that became a metaphor for intertextuality, or the ways in which all literary works exist in conversation with each other. Senior Sathya Kikkeri explained, "The physicality of sewing cloth is like the process of figuring out the connections between the novels and how they are related; we literally stitched the relationships together."

Local quilting artist and expert Becky Goldsmith assisted the students in creation of the quilt. With Goldsmith's assistance, the students designed quilt squares to represent each of the six novels they read in the course. Goldsmith also taught the students how to applique the designs onto the quilt squares. "After a semester of writing papers and drawing connections between these novels, we designed a quilt that would physically represent these connections," said junior Sasha Tatum. "The selection of the fabrics, colors, and symbols was done with thought so each square could speak for the novel it represents. We physically connected the novels when the squares were sewn together."

The squares students prepared represent The Scarlet Letter (1850) by Nathaniel Hawthorne; I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (1992) by Maryse Conde; Little Women (1868) by Louisa May Alcott; March (2005) by Geraldine Brooks; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) by Mark Twain; and My Jim (2005) by Nancy Rawles. "The course was designed to pair 19th-century 'classics' with a present day re-telling of each work so that students could see the ways in which the ideas and concerns expressed in the earlier literature are still relevant today," Tanglen explained.

The students hope to display the quilt during the Austin College Student Scholarship Conference on campus in March. Then, the finished project will be sent to author Nancy Rawles, whose book My Jim, a re-telling of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the African American perspective, is included in the quilt.

Austin College is a leading national independent liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas. Founded in 1849, making it the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original charter and name, the College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA). Recognized nationally for academic excellence in the areas of international education, pre-professional training, and leadership studies, Austin College is one of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope's influential book Colleges That Change Lives.

Photo Credit: Quilting Students: (left to right) Sasha Tatum, Amber Eustace, Carla Garcia, Sathya Kikkeri, Alexander Opper, Luci Gonzales, and Amanda Goodson. Not pictured: Gloria Jones.

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