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Induction into the English department honor society as a student sparked the curiosity of an alumna so much, it led to her graduate research project, which details the "annotated literary highlights" of St. Lawrence County.

Christyanna LaFaver '02 has created a Web site, Reading St. Lawrence County, as part of her work toward a master's degree in English at the University of Rochester. On the site, she states, "Late in my sophomore year at St. Lawrence University, I was inducted into The Irving Bacheller Society, the English department’s honor society. As an English literature major with graduate school aspirations, applying for membership was all but expected and I was certainly delighted to receive the honor and the ability to type it proudly onto my resume. But who exactly was this Irving Bacheller? And if he was so important to the English department, why had I never heard of him before? Each inductee traditionally receives a copy of Eben Holden, which we were told was Bacheller’s best-known novel, although to most of us, “Eben Holden” was merely the name of a dining hall on campus...Instantly curious, I flipped to the introduction and its first line, a compelling proclamation, read, “Irving Bacheller (1859-1950) is Northern New York’s most important literary figure and Eben Holden: A Tale of the North Country is his best known book” (Welch, 5). This of course explained the name of the English honorary and why we were given the novel upon being inducted, but for me this one phrase jump-started my investigation into regional literatures of St. Lawrence County and Northern New York. Surely Bacheller couldn’t be the only one…"

The site, she states, "does not seek to be exhaustive, but, as the subtitle 'Annotated Literary Highlights' indicates, it attempts to present a listing of its literary highlights, annotated and categorized. For example, you will not find scientific or environmental reports or government or much economic information. The texts annotated herein are primarily literatures (poetry, fiction, biography) and histories (community histories, cultural traditions). In short, Reading St. Lawrence County: Annotated Literary Highlights exists as an annotated bibliography of highlights in the literary heritage of the county."

Online since 2004, the site includes search, browse-by-subject and browse-by-community capabilities, as well as a forum, local links and information about other regional literature.

LaFaver studied in London while at St. Lawrence, was a Faculty Scholar and was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Posted: April 7, 2005