Flash talks shine light on relevance of literature

Travis Moody, Staff Reporter

After a three-year hiatus, Gothtober lectures have returned, as the idea of walking uteruses quickly shifted into a discussion about President Donald Trump’s hands.

Sigma Tau Delta and English Club organized the lecture, where five English professors gave five-minute flash talks about The Handmaid’s Tale as an excited audience laughed and listened intently.

English professor C.C. Wharram started off the night by reading his comedic opening and introducing the faculty who were giving the presentations.

Topics ranged from “Scrabble” to the television show Mad Men as each presenter connected their own area of research to Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale.

Presenters were informed they would be competing against each other. The winner was chosen before the night began, written on a piece of paper and placed inside an Easter egg. 

At the end of the night, the Easter egg was opened, and the piece of paper inside declared everyone a winner.

The paper read “The winner is. . . EIU. Why? Because STDs (Sigma Tau Deltas) make EIU a better place.”

Karly Johnson, public relations chair for English Club, said she enjoyed having class with every professor that presented, but English Professor Marjorie Worthington’s presentation was her favorite because she was the most topical, discussing the loss of women’s reproductive rights in the novel and the reflection of that in the real world.

“Talking about the recent election and bringing the ideas of a novel written in the eighties back to today’s society and current issues we’re dealing with is really interesting,” Johnson said.

Senior English major Kailey Carey said she heard about the event through her professors and friends involved with English Club.

“I was expecting a lot of talk about The Handmaid’s Tale in relation to now,” Carey said. “There’s a lot of feminist ideology behind the book.”

Carey said she thought the most interesting speaker of the night was Worthington because of her unique approach to her topic.

“The way she brought Donald Trump into her lecture was pretty funny,” Carey said. “It made sense in terms of Atwood’s book.”

Carey said many of the flash talks were pertinent to modern culture as well as pop culture.

Carey said the importance of literature in society allows for us to reflect on ourselves and our society as a whole.

“I don’t see our society going to exactly where Atwood took her world, but there are some similarities starting to form,” Carey said. “One of the biggest issues in the book is the reproductive rights of women being taken away, and we’re starting to see the start of that.”

Carey said the night was informative and presented relevant information and maybe even gave someone a new book to add to their reading list.

“For English majors, or anyone really, these are really cool opportunities to get to talk to people after the lecture or whatever it may be and get to relate to them and find something in common,” Carey said.

Travis Moody can be reached at

518-2812 or at [email protected]