The Blog @
Southern Virginia University
  1. Fall Colors Photo Contest 2015

    October 1, 2015


    It’s that time of year again! Virginia is donning its warm hues and the winds are blustery. Not to mention happy things like apple cider, pumpkins, and the smell of rain.  If you ask me, there really is no time as charming or as magical and full of promise as the fall.

    So, in honor of this magnificent season, and tradition, it’s time for our annual Fall Colors Photo Contest!

    With Virginia out the window, the list of photo-worthy sights around this time of year is nearly endless. So grab your camera, whether it’s on your phone or you’ve got some snazzy Nikon, and start capturing the gorgeous.

    If you’re interested in taking a look at the winning photos from years past, feel free to feast your eyes on the pretty things here and here.

    How to Enter:

    All students, faculty, and staff, as well as members of the Buena Vista community, are encouraged to enter. Submit up to three photos between today and Nov. 6 in one of the following ways:


    A panel of university employees will select the top photos. The winners will receive the following prizes:

    • The first-place winner’s photo will be featured on Southern Virginia’s Facebook profile and the Scoop. The winner will receive a $25 gift card to local shop in the Buena Vista/Lexington area.
    • Second-place will receive a $25 gift card to local shop in the Buena Vista/Lexington area.
    • All who place in the top five will receive a small prize.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photo by Cassandra Johnson.)

  2. Professors Monthly: Scott A. Dransfield

    September 29, 2015


    Professors Monthly is a new monthly column on the official Southern Virginia University blog. Each month’s guest post will be provided by a Southern Virginia professor on a topic of their choice. This month, Dr. Scott A. Dransfield, professor of English and director of university writing, analyzes the text of “The Iliad” as translated by Robert Fagles and in relation to English poetic vernacular.

    Beauty, Terrible Beauty

    Those of you who have taken Classics of Western Literature, which features that great epic, “The Iliad,” by Homer, may have run up against what seems the irrationality of the Trojan War as presented in the poem: 10 years of grueling and violent war, fueled by testosterone-crazed notions of honor, all over the possession of the beautiful woman, Helen. How could one woman possibly be worth the death, destruction, and mayhem, you may ask. Well, the Trojans and Greeks also asked this question, and their conclusion is a bit surprising, though it has everything to do with the imaginative logic of “The Iliad.”

    And catching sight of Helen moving along the ramparts,

    they murmured one to another, gentle, winged words:

    ‘Who on earth could blame them? Ah, no wonder

    the men of Troy and Argives under arms have suffered

    years of agony all for her, for such a woman.

    Beauty, terrible beauty!’

    “Terrible beauty” has always struck me as a striking paradox and, as a very economic phrase, captures the essence of the epic. Perhaps we also see a “terrible beauty” embodied in the notion of kleos: a glory achieved through the ultimate strife of warfare. After all, heroic deeds become the beauty of poetry. But did Homer write these exact words, “terrible beauty”? Let us remember we are reading in translation: Robert Fagles uses this expression in the translation that we read, but, after a bit of investigation of the Greek text, it really doesn’t appear this way in the ancient Greek language.

    Flash forward several millennia and some centuries: It’s now the early twentieth century and Irish nationals are fighting bitterly for their independence from British rule. We don’t see so much organized military operations as much as daring and devoted individuals taking up the cause by leading insurrections. A sensitive and idealistic poet named William Butler Yeats, an Irish nationalist himself (though without the revolutionary fervor), witnesses the great Easter Uprising of 1916, and while he is shocked by the violence, he can’t help but be moved by these heroic efforts. He watches as the rebellion is suppressed; the leaders of the insurrection are all court-martialed and executed, and Yeats’s response is to write one of his best poems, “Easter 1916.” In the poem he celebrates the lives of the revolutionaries and their impact on the whole movement for independence, which, six years later, was successful. But something has happened in the meantime. Even though the Easter rebellion was squashed, there is a palpable transformation: the “casual comedy” of Ireland has been

    All changed, changed utterly:

    A terrible beauty is born.

    And, like “The Iliad,” there is a beautiful woman inspiring, indeed taking part in, these events: Maud Gonne, a revolutionary as violent as the rest of them, some say a terrorist, whom Yeats pined for throughout his life. She was his Helen, and he wrote many poems about this Helen whose beauty was equal to her force.

    1990: Robert Fagles’ translation of “The Iliad” is published to overwhelming acclaim. It has become the preferred translation for “modern Greekless readers,” as one reviewer puts it, and has supplied countless classrooms, like those at Southern Virginia, with a text of the poem that is vibrant and alive. How is it that this translation of the ancient poem succeeds with young, 21st-century readers, for whom the ancient world can seem remote and foreign? It is quite clear that Fagles meets the challenge of translation by drawing upon the cultural resources of his own English poetic vernacular, a language that has developed through succeeding generations of poets who have contributed to a tradition that still nonetheless connects to Homer. If Yeats is an influential figure in this ongoing, developing tradition (and he is), how can we approach Homer untouched by the modern poet’s influence? In other words, how can we envision the “terrible beauty” of Helen without experiencing, even indirectly, something of Yeats’s “Helen”? Fagles clearly sees an opportunity in taking from this vibrant resource and thus quotes a modern poet in the project of translating an ancient one. It is a beautiful collaboration of generations.

    (Post by Dr. Scott A. Dransfield. Based on an essay to be published in a forthcoming issue of “Philological Quarterly.”)

  3. Video: Dr. Kathleen Knight Presents New Scholarship

    September 24, 2015

    Dr. Kathleen Knight, who received an honorary doctorate from Southern Virginia University earlier this year, presented a new scholarship in honor of her parents this month. The V. Pershing and Hattie J. Nelson Disciple Scholar Award is presented to exceptional students. Watch the video to hear Knight’s words and to see this year’s recipients.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Video by Rex Winslow ’16.)

  4. Happy Constitution Day!

    September 17, 2015

    constitution-bIt’s Constitution Day! That means that throughout this week, colleges and universities across the country will celebrate the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.

    Here are a few suggestions for how you can celebrate Constitution Day.
    • The home of the primary author of the constitution — James Madison’s Montpelier. Montpelier is only a two-hour drive from campus and will be hosting various events including remarks on the Constitution, a horse parade, Constitution-themed games, mansion tours, carriage rides, musical performances, and fireworks to celebrate Constitution Day on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015.
    • The original copy of the United States Constitution on permanent display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. — a three-hour drive from our campus.
    • The Von Canon Library to see a special Constitution Day display — featuring books and DVDs from the library as well as information about the Constitution.
    Go Online
    • See how much you know about the Constitution. offers both a simple and an advanced quiz.
    • Educate yourself with a few Ted-Ed videos related to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
    (Post by Hannah King ’13.)
  5. Convocation 2015: “Festina Lente”

    September 13, 2015

    Convocation is an essential part of welcoming a new academic year. Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to hear from our provost, Dr. Madison U. Sowell, as he spoke about the importance and application of “festina lente,” a Latin phrase meaning “make haste slowly.” It was an enlightening and encouraging reminder for everyone at the beginning of a new and promising year. Following the address, the professors, decked out in their academic regalia, greeted students as they exited the Stoddard Center.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’15 and Eva Sorensen ’17.)