#Shakespeare400: Celebrating the Bard’s Quadricentennial

As a Sigma Tau Delta member, scholar of literature, theatre-goer, or user-of-the-internet, you may have heard that 2016 was the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. The Bard left us on April 23, 1616, after penning 37 plays and hundreds of sonnets. Fans of the playwright and poet nicknamed 2016 the “quadricentennial”—or #Shakespeare400 on social media.

Quadricentenial Quote BoardShakespeare’s fans have celebrated this very special deathiversary in various ways. Theatre companies around the world showed reverence to the playwright by staging his works—one company even successfully staged all his plays within the year. The First Folio went on tour throughout the United States, thanks to the Folger Shakespeare Library. The Crown Publishing Group began releasing famous novelists’ retellings of the Bard’s works in the Hogarth Shakespeare project. At the Sigma Tau Delta 2016 International Convention in Minneapolis, MN, attendees were invited in the registration area to share their favorite lines from Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets on an ever-growing whiteboard. And individual Sigma Tau Delta chapters have done their part to celebrate, too.

Celebrating the Quadricentennial

Quadricentenial ColoringThe College of New Jersey‘s Alpha Epsilon Alpha Chapter worked throughout the year to show Shakespeare some love. In early spring, the chapter supported the English Department’s “Romances and Tragedies” course by providing refreshments and advertising for a staged reading of Macbeth. On April 23 itself, they hosted a Death Day party. Scenes were performed, Shakespeare-themed prizes were bestowed, coloring pages featuring the Bard’s face were adorned, and cake with his portrait was served. Finally, as the quadricentennial neared its close, the chapter planned one final event.

Every December during final’s week, the Alpha Epsilon Alpha Chapter co-sponsors with TCNJ’s chapter of Alpha Psi Omega Theatre Honor Society a Reader’s Theatre event. This event is a staged reading of a play, advertised to the whole campus as part of Finals Fest, a huge itinerary of events for students in need of a break from studying. Traditionally, the staged reading has featured Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but last year, the two organizations decided they were feeling a different type of festive, and used the event as one last hurrah for the Bard’s 400th deathiversary.

Reader’s Theatre does #Shakespeare400

QuadricentenialBoth honor society chapters presented a cutting of The Tempest, considered by many to be a farewell of Shakespeare’s own. The 1611 romance is believed to be Shakespeare’s final work written under his sole authorship. The character of Prospero is thought to be the aging-Shakespeare’s insertion of himself into the text, as the Duke-turned-exiled-magician makes peace with his life and casts away his book of spells (often read as a metaphor for Shakespeare’s career as a powerhouse playwright). The romantic themes of The Tempest and its late placement in Shakespeare’s canon made it the perfect play to present as a final farewell for the quadricentennial.

The reading featured 16 students from both Sigma Tau Delta and Alpha Psi Omega, some familiar with the play, and others new to it. This meant that, often times, the comedic and more touching moments of the play genuinely were being experienced by the readers, making for a poignant performance. The audience was comprised of members of the honor societies as well as supportive friends, who aided the performance with their generous laughs and animated responses to the text. All attendees left with festive snacks in their bellies, uplifted spirits, and hopefully, a new resolve to face finals.

As we approach another April 23, what special events has your chapter hosted in celebration of the quadricentennial or the Bard’s deathiversary?

JBurkeJenna Burke
Associate Student Representative, Eastern Region, 2016-2017
Alpha Epsilon Alpha Chapter, Membership Officer
The College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ

Opportunity to Impact Lives through a BWB Internship

Sophie Hulen was the 2016 recipient of the Sigma Tau Delta/Better World Books Summer Internship. Read on to learn about her experience, and to see what you could gain from applying for the 2017 BWB Internship.

Child Reads Harry PotterOne Christmas, before I was even old enough to read them myself, I was given the first two books in the Harry Potter series. The attachment was strong and immediate. As the remaining books in the series were released, I repeatedly was at the front of the line for the next chapter, eager to learn the fates of my favorite characters and watch their stories unfold. In fact, during my childhood, I was more often seen with a Harry Potter book—or any other book to be perfectly honest—than on a sport’s field or with a video game controller in my hands. I loved—and still love—to read. But this love is not a luxury granted to many children in our country.

I learned of Better World Books’ literacy program through my chapter’s textbook drive. Here was a program that helped put books like Harry Potter in needy hands. Every time someone purchases a book from BetterWorldBooks.com, they donate a book through one of hundreds of non-profit organizations. Through the charitable work of Better World Books, our country’s children are more easily able to access the same material that has shaped who I am today. And this is why I was so excited to be granted the Sigma Tau Delta/Better World Books 2016 Summer Internship.

BWB InternshipBWB Internship

One of the greatest benefits of a BWB Internship was that my six-week program was not built around a set group of tasks. Due to my interest in writing and communication, I was put in charge of a competitive marketing analysis. This meant I would do extensive research of their clients and competitors, creating a comprehensive analysis of what BWB was doing well, and what could be done better. Through this project I was connected with several executive members of the company, included in national conferences over Google Hangout, and was able to speak with a few of the company’s United Kingdom partners as well. To conclude my time with Better World Books, I was given the opportunity to present my analysis at their annual international marketing meeting.

Not only was I given the chance to do work I enjoyed, I essentially was in charge of my own work. Although I was supervised by the head of the marketing department, she gave me the freedom any traditional employee would have been given. I was, and still am, extremely grateful for the level of respect granted to me by my supervisor, as well as the rest of the staff both in Alpharetta and other offices across the country and in the UK.

BWB InternshipI absolutely recommend this internship to other Sigma Tau Delta members. The interpersonal, research, and presentation skills I learned and practiced during this time will prove invaluable to me in the future, and I am extremely glad I was able to spend my summer with Better World Books, doing my part to ensure books continue to reach needy children around the world. I can only hope my efforts introduced to someone a book that will impact their life in a similar way to how Harry Potter impacted mine.

What will motivate you to apply for the 2017 summer BWB Internship?

2017 Summer Internship

February 6 is the application deadline for the Better World Books (BWB) six-week paid summer internship for undergraduate members of Sigma Tau Delta chapters that have run Better World Books textbook drives. The internship takes place in the Atlanta metro area beginning in May or June and ending in June or July. The recipient will work 30 hours per week, earning $10 per hour. Sigma Tau Delta will provide an additional $1,500 stipend to assist with travel and housing expenses.

View: Application Submission Instructions

Sophie HulenSophie Hulen
Chapter President
Alpha Xi Epsilon Chapter
Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH

Chapter’s Hardship Leads to a Better World

Sigma Tau Delta chapter members are hardworking, willing to see projects through successful completion. Sometimes, though, chapters face moments of hardship and need reminding that their determination and actions can lead to a better world.

Rho Iota’s Story

The Rho Iota chapter at Clarion University in Clarion, PA, faced a daunting challenge in fall 2015. The chapter lost numerous members to graduation and was in the midst of gaining a new Sponsor. The beginning of that semester brought many brainstorming sessions about how to reinvigorate the chapter.

Our chapter soon realized we had the necessary tools right in front of us. Sigma Tau Delta encourages chapters to donate to Better World Books, a company committed to promoting literacy and re-purposing books otherwise destined for the trash. Better World Books donates five percent of net sales from books collected and sent in by Sigma Tau Delta chapters to benefit a literacy initiative in the convention host city.

Sigma Tau Delta chapters make a sizable donation of textbooks through Better World Books Textbook Drives every year. These donations help spread literacy and a love of reading far beyond any single chapter’s capabilities.

Better World BooksThe Rho Iota chapter was fortunate to have a room, often used to hold book sales, bursting with textbooks. We knew, though, that we could do more than simply pack up boxes. Our members reached out to faculty and students on campus, specifically in the English department, and offered to take old textbooks. This campaign for used books, which lasted over the course of the fall semester, was a success in many ways. The book drive allowed members to make stronger connections with faculty, students, and other groups on campus. It also helped draw in and engage new Sigma Tau Delta members.

Our chapter members learned that community service projects not only promoted literacy throughout the English department, campus, and community, but also allowed the campus community to see the Society’s potential impact.

Sign-up to Create a Better World

When chapters collect textbooks and donate to Better World Books, it is an opportunity to give back, promote Sigma Tau Delta, and strengthen individual chapters.

The Better World Books drive is going on now, and the holiday season is the perfect time for a chapter service project. Show off the impact your chapter can have on your school and community by joining the effort today. Additionally, your chapter will receive $1 for every accepted A-list book donated. A-list books include college textbooks and study guides published in the last 10 years, unused workbooks, or any book used in a college classroom. If your chapter still needs more reasons to join the cause, participating chapter members are eligible to apply for the 2016 Better World Books Summer Internship.

On the Society website Sigma Tau Delta features the top 25 chapters with the largest donations. Can your chapter beat last year’s champion, the University of California, Los Angeles, who came in at 455 accepted books? Visit the Better World Books Campus Textbook Drive Resource Center today to sign up to run a textbook drive!


Kaitlynn SassKaitlynn Sass
Student Representative, Eastern Region, 2016-2017
Rho Iota Chapter
Clarion University, Clarion, PA