Local Literary Lights Shine

Wheeling area students “cleaned up” in the honors for West Virginia’s 2019 Letters About Literature competition.

The West Virginia Center for the Book at the West Virginia Library Commission held an awards ceremony for the program at the state Culture Center in Charleston on Thursday. A total of 166 West Virginia students were honored with top honors, honors, honorable mention and notable mention recognition. Several of the top winners came from the Northern Panhandle.

In Level 1 for grades 4-6, Tessa Moore of The Linsly School earned top honors. Bridget Zimmerman of Linsly and Ella Landini of Wheeling Country Day School received honors in this grade level. Rachel Rutherford and Caroline Higginbottom, both of Linsly, were given honorable mention in this category.

In Level 2 for grades 7-8, Clare Seibert of Linsly earned top honors. John Michael Zimmerman of Linsly was one of two students in the state receiving honors for this grade level. Amanda Herndon and Sara Campsey, both of Linsly, were accorded honorable mention in this category.

In Level 3 for grades 9-12, Sarah Hashman and Gage Huffman, both of Tyler Consolidated High School, were among the students in the state receiving honors. Honorable mention recipients at this grade level included Nachelle Probst and Creed Ammons, both of Tyler Consolidated.

West Virginia top honor winners receive a cash prize of $100. Honor recipients are given $50.

Letters About Literature is a national reading and writing program, supported by the state library commission and the West Virginia Center for the Book. Students wrote letters to authors (living or dead) telling them how a book, poem or play by that author affected them personally.

Organizers said 629 students from West Virginia were among more than 25,000 students nationwide who wrote Letters About Literature this year.

Those receiving top honors — Moore, Seibert and Bethany Nutter of Nicholas County High School (for Level 3) — will advance to national level judging. The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress selects a panel of judges to award national winners and national honor winners.

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Five professors at West Virginia University’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences are using HBO’s award-winning series, “Game of Thrones,” to illustrate how the program, which ends today, intersects their fields of study.

The experts contend the popular show’s characters and themes have become cultural touchstones.

Alyssa Beall, teaching assistant professor of religious studies and philosophy, commented, “‘Game of Thrones’ allows us to explore the implications of different religious, cultural and moral systems, and how those systems are actually practiced within the ‘world’ of the show.”

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Cohen, associate professor of communication studies, said research suggests that recent spoilers about the series finale probably won’t diminish fans’ enjoyment of the show. “For many, television is best shared with others, whether it’s in person or online,” she said.

Christina Fattore, associate professor of political science, said “Game of Thrones” character Daenerys Targaryen has become a feminist icon. She added, “Her storyline is very similar to a central question in international relations: do women rule differently than men and, more specifically, are they more peaceful?”

Jenifer Gamble, field education director and clinical assistant professorof social work, observed, “‘Game of Thrones’ has been rich with ethical and moral dilemmas that really challenged the primary characters. As a social worker, I certainly found myself at times thinking about the characters as real people grappling with their identities and the decisions that were in front of them.”

And, for those who may wonder, the Dothraki language in the show is a conlang, or constructed language, according to Jonah Katz, assistant professor of linguistics.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelligencer.net

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