College hosts TYCA-Southeast conference at Peabody Hotel
By Thad Cockrill, Languages and Literature Department Chair
Southwest and the Department of Languages and Literature hosted the 2019 conference of the Two-Year College Association-Southeast (TYCA-Southeast) Feb. 14-16 at the Peabody Hotel. Nearly two hundred English professors travelled to Memphis from Virginia, Florida, Mississippi, Kentucky, and parts in-between to attend and present sessions on topics ranging from literary and composition studies to growth mindset and co-requisite remediation.
Southwest President Dr. Tracy D. Hall welcomed conference-goers to Memphis at the opening plenary on Thursday and was followed by noted author Alan Huffman (Sultana, Harper, 2009), who spoke about the largest maritime disaster in American history, which occurred in April 1865 on the Mississippi River, a few miles from Memphis.
President Hall lauded the room of educators and stressed their importance to higher education. “Your knowledge, talent and dedication pave the way to intellectual enlightenment,” she said. “You take your students on journeys paved with words, contemplation and poetic expression. You empower us all to explore our creativity and teach us how to express it.”
Conference chairs Doug Branch (program) and David Huffman (local arrangements) planned the three-day conference, which began with a pre-conference excursion to Stax Museum, and concluded Saturday with a post-conference tour of Sun Studios.
“I am very proud of my colleagues Dave and Doug for pulling off such a successful professional development event,” Languages and Literature Chair Thad Cockrill said. “They really showcased the culture of our city, with the help of our colleagues in what I not-so-humbly believe is the strongest department at our College.”
At the conference’s Friday luncheon, blues scholar and Memphian native Robert Gordon delivered a presentation on his book Memphis Rent Party (Bloomsbury, 2018), a well-received exploration of Memphis as a particular milieu that furnished the world with three major music phenomena in one century.
Other activities included a poetry slam on Friday night, presided over by Southwest professors Daniel Gillespie and Susanna Jackson, at which several Southwest students were in attendance. The Thursday night party featured Memphis barbecue and the group Jamie Baker and the VIPs, who performed rhythm and blues hits. More whimsically, the chairs’ reception on Wednesday night featured an appearance by the King of Rock ’n’ Roll himself (Brian Howell).
“This was such a good team-building enterprise for my colleagues in English,” Cockrill said. “It gave some of the newer members of my department the opportunity to work together in planning and producing a large, three-day conference, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with their peers at similar institutions.” He continued, “This kind of collaboration and networking can only strengthen the department and the College and translate into benefits for our students.”
Cockrill noted the support the conference received from Dr. Hall and from Dr. LaDonna Young, Dean of Humanities.
TYCA-Southeast is a 10-state regional association that is affiliated with the National Council of Teachers of English. Southwest last hosted the TYCA-Southeast conference in 1999.
President Tracy D. Hall chats with Assistant Professor of English David Huffman, one of the conference coordinators.