English Department Virtual Commencement

English Department Virtual Commencement

On Sunday, May 24, 2020, the originally scheduled day for commencement, the English Department held its own virtual graduation celebration for our English seniors.  Sister Mary Hotz, our interim department chair, and “Master of Ceremonies” lead the ceremony on Zoom with the playing of “Pomp and Circumstance,” read the roll-call of our English graduates, and gave the following reading.

"Words Matter" by Mary Hotz, RSCJ (May 24, 2020):  “Linda Hogan, in her memoir, The Woman Who Watches Over the World, writes: ‘Words . . . are the defining shape of a human spirit. Without them we fall. Without them, there is no accounting for the human place in the world. Language is an intimacy not only with others, but even with the self (as perhaps we have discovered in our quarantines). Language creates a person. Without it, in the dawn, in the dark of night, there is no way to know who or what we are’ (56).

English majors believe deeply (having taken the risk to major in English in the first place) that words ‘put a human life together.’ Words are ‘the defining shape of a human spirit.’ And because words have such power, we must always be thoughtful about them, for they heal a devastating and difficult past, they describe a troubled and perplexing present, and they express our deepest desires and aspirations for a bright and better future.

And because we know the power of language, we also know how tricksters manipulate language to serve their own purposes. This is also why we must be practiced and vigilant, sensitive and perceptive about language, discourses, arguments, and justifications. To be good citizens, we must be attuned and passionate about language. When you commit yourselves to language, to a passion for words, you thereby commit yourselves to identity, which, in Hogan’s sense of the word, involves community, love, compassion and hope for friends, for enemies, for family, town, the nation and the world. Linda Hogan reminds us again–and very powerfully–that words matter.

Congratulations to our graduates. And when you find yourselves under pressure from someone who wants to know what in heaven’s name you had in mind by majoring English, simply tell them, ‘Words matter.’”




English Zoom commencement collage

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