With submissions for the Sigma Tau Delta 2024 Centennial Convention being accepted now through Monday, October 23, 5:00 p.m. CDT, take some time to learn about the special Convention Award opportunities available this year.

As longtime Sigma Tau Deltans committed to the academic success of students, my husband Larry Dennis and I (Kevin Stemmler) created an annual LGBT& convention award. As active Chapter Advisors, former members of the Sigma Tau Delta Board of Directors, and Delta Award recipients, we recognized a need for celebrating LGBT voices.

This award honors the best of convention work representing or celebrating the LGBT community. The award compensates for the many years that LGBT voices have been overlooked or silenced, particularly in academic settings. After our many years of service and dedication to the mission of Sigma Tau Delta, we felt a duty to personally acknowledge LGBT scholarship and creative work produced by students who identify as LGBT, or by allies interested in promoting the work of LGBT authors.

The name of the award reflects changes in language and scholarship and requires a brief explanation. If you are aware of GLAAD‘s “&Together” campaign, you already understand that the symbol of the blue ampersand unites all voices and identities. In 2019 The Gay & Lesbian Review published “The Ampersand Issue,” which explained its reason for rebranding itself as G&LR. The editors’ explanation for not including the widely accepted “Q” mirrors our life experiences. Historically and linguistically, the word “queer” was offensive—and to many individuals it remains so. As we grow old (and wear our trousers rolled . . .), we cannot adjust to claiming the word for our own identity or in our personal vocabulary. Thus, we adopted the ampersand to demonstrate inclusivity because it felt more appropriate for an English Honor Society award—particularly since our Society relies on language and symbols.  

Regardless of what letters or symbols an individual may choose for their identification, we launched this award to celebrate the various voices that have too often been ignored or unheard. It was also our intention and hope that other individuals, chapters, universities, or corporations might establish similar awards that celebrate various diversities. If you have an idea for how to fund such an award, please contact the Central Office or a Board Member.

Larry and I are proud to have presented the annual Stemmler/Dennis LGBT& Awards at the 2022 Atlanta Convention and at the 2023 Denver Convention. The quality of work presented by all of the winners made us proud on many levels. It was a pleasure to meet the inaugural winners and to let them know they were seen, heard, and valued. It was a pleasure to reunite with some of them in Denver and to follow their accomplishments. We were pleased to learn that Elias Kerr published their first book of poetry, trans[re]incarnation (at Mason Jar Press—please read it!), and we were equally pleased to award a new group of deserving student writers. Sigma Tau Delta is always interested in following the accomplishments of our students and with the approach of our Society’s Centennial celebration in St. Louis, there is all the more reason to let the Regents, Student Leaders, Board Members, and Central Office staff know what you’ve been up to!

As you prepare your submissions for this year’s convention, keep these simple steps in mind: If your work addresses an LGBT& theme or subject, please consider submitting to the 2024 Convention Stemmler/Dennis LGBT& Awards. In order to qualify, you must select “LGBTQIA+” under the Theme keyword. Any work specifically in LGBT theory must select the keyword “LGBTQIA+ Theory” for your submissions. Submitting for the LGBT& Awards does not preclude you from eligibility in any other category.  

Good luck!  We are anxious to see you and meet you in St. Louis!

Stemmler/Dennis LGBT& Awards Merchandise

For those members interested in showing their support for both the Stemmler/Dennis LGBT& Awards as well as LGBT representation and inclusion in academia, Sigma Tau Delta now offers ampersand merchandise in our exclusive online store, Shop English. Shop the full Pride Collection now! All Sigma Tau Delta proceeds from the sale our Pride collection will be used to fund support for LGBTQIA+ organizations (20%) and to endow the Sigma Tau Delta Stemmler/Dennis LGBT& Awards (80%).

Other Convention Awards

Isabel Sparks President’s Awards

Given for the best presentations by active student and alumni members at the Sigma Tau Delta Convention, these awards were established in 1991 by Isabel Sparks, the fifth President of Sigma Tau Delta. Awards are given to both creative and critical papers across all submission categories. Awards are always given for creative and critical papers about the 2024 Common Reader Then the War: And Selected Poems, 2007-2020.

Justin Q. Owen Convention Awards

Each year, these awards recognize critical essays and creative works by active students and alumni writing on the convention theme; this year’s theme is In Flux. The monetary prizes are given in honor of Justin Q. Owen, the first National Secretary of Sigma Tau Delta.

Beth DeMeo Poetry Award

This award is given yearly to honor excellence in convention presentations for “Critical Work on Poetry or a Poet.” Beth DeMeo was an active member of the Sigma Tau Delta organization, having served as a Chapter Advisor, Eastern Regent, and President of Sigma Tau Delta. Over her many dedicated years of service, Beth planned and hosted several annual conventions. Additionally, she continued to serve on committees and always participated in judging convention submissions. In particular, Beth enjoyed being part of the small group who ranked the student submissions that were eligible for convention awards, particularly in poetry. Beth was both a lover of poetry and an accomplished poet herself. It is fitting to celebrate her life and her commitment to our group by presenting this annual convention award in her memory.

Other Convention Awards

Sigma Tau Delta values creative and scholarly contributions that represent diversity of abilities, races, and creeds, and we present special awards for the best among these submissions. Sigma Kappa Delta (our sister organization at two-year schools) also rewards excellent submissions by their members.

Convention Submissions

To submit a paper to the Sigma Tau Delta 2024 Centennial Convention in St. Louis, MO, and be considered for a Convention Award, visit the Submission Overview page to start the submissions process. All paper and roundtable submissions are due by Monday, October 23, 5:00 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT).


Questions regarding the online submission process or convention awards should be addressed to the 2024 Convention staff at [email protected].