Our 2019 Convention site, St. Louis, as one of the cross-roads of our country, invites us to think about the intersection of work and art and history. Central to St. Louis’s history and identity is work: of railroad workers, of trade along the Mississippi River, of local factories and products exported across the country. The city has also been home to some of the United States’s most famous writers, including Maya Angelou, William S. Burroughs, T. S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, Jane Smiley, Mark Twain, and Tennessee Williams. Often we think of writing as the work of genius, or the “spontaneous overflow” of emotion “recollected in tranquility,” and discount the importance of the labor it requires, but what we do to foster and promote all elements of the discipline of English is work, and we all deserve to take pride in our efforts and their products.
As more of our work—as readers, writers, and teachers—becomes inseparable from the machines we use to do it, how has our relationship to work changed? Has the way that we celebrate work changed? Does work ask new things of us? Does automation open up space for new kinds of aesthetic production? Do we need to reimagine work? Our theme invites you to contemplate these questions (and others) about the work that Sigma Tau Delta celebrates. We celebrate “all aspects of the discipline of English, including literature, language, and writing,” and we ask you to consider your “work in progress” at convention in St. Louis.