This past Saturday was not only beautiful weather wise, but was beautifully filled with literature, reading and discussions for one event at East Tennessee State University.

The annual Southern Appalachian Student Conference on Literature, or SASCOL, returned for its eighth year.

As previously mentioned in the East Tennessean article “SASCOL now accepting applications,” the event started in 2007 by Dr. Katherine Weiss and Dr. Thomas Alan Holmes. The conference was created to give undergraduate and graduate students experience with an academic conference in a supportive environment. The conference consists of students reading their own writings to a panel.

The event took place in the Culp Center, and was divided into sections for each student to speak. In total, there were four concurrent sessions, with panels going from letters A-J.

For speakers like Dean Pfeiffer, an undergraduate student at the university, the event was beneficial not only to the students participating but to the audience as well.

“We had a question and answer session after the panel that gave the audience a chance to interact with the presenters and the material presented. This was just as beneficial for me as a speaker as it was for the audience,” she said.

Pfeiffer delivered a presentation called “Master-Mistress of My Passion: A Queer Critical Reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 20.” In this presentation she defined queer theory and applied it to the writings of William Shakespeare, whose sexuality has been analyzed over the years.

“Sonnet 20 exemplifies the sexually ambiguous nature of Shakespeare’s passion for the young man and offers the phrase ‘master-mistress of my passion.’ In my presentation I argue that this phrase is uniquely gender-neutral and offers deeper insight into the bisexual undertones of one of English literature’s most recognizable names,” she said in her presentation.

While this was Pfeiffer’s first time participating in SASCOL, she originally presented her ideas to her Literary Criticism class taught by Dr. Robert Sawyer a year ago. According to Pfeiffer, Sawyer approached her about SASCOL and she ultimately decided to apply.

For her, this opportunity was beneficial both as a writer and as an undergrad.

“I participated because I think any time you get a chance to present your original work as an undergrad you should take it,” she said. “It gives you an opportunity to connect with other people in your field and faculty as well. And personally it makes me take extra care in making sure I understand the material I am presenting.”

To anyone thinking of participating in the future, Pfeiffer has words of encouragement.

“Definitely do it. This is a great first conference to try out. It’s a laid back atmosphere with a lot of interesting topics and passionate students,” she said.

The event was free to the public and took place on the third floor of the D.P. Culp University Center.

For more information on SASCOL, you can go to the website at, or contact Dr. Reid at and Dr. Holmes at, who are both part of the annual event.