Author Archives: keatonbenfield

Keaton Benfield: “Game of Thrones” PRIDE Day Presentation Feature Story

Winter came to Piedmont at noon on Wednesday during the Lions’ Piedmont Research Innovation and Discovery Exhibition in the form of junior English major Michael Adams’ presentation. “Jamie Lannister: From Byronic Hero to Ironic Hero” tackled all seven seasons of “Game of Thrones” as excitement builds for the epic conclusion to the acclaimed television series.

Adams explored character Jamie Lannister’s significance to the show, delving into his complex motives, as well as those of his sister Cersei Lannister, just two of many others who wish to rule the kingdoms from the coveted seat on the Iron Throne, no matter the price.

“I think the reason that I chose “Game of Thrones” in particular is because it has kind of flown under the radar as far as literature is concerned,” Adams said. “I know it is pop culture and it’s a lot of fun, but I think that there is a lot of analysis that can go into the characters. I think it’s definitely worthy of critical looks.”

During his presentation, Adams said that both Lannisters experience mimetic desire, a theory proposed by French philosopher René Girard, where a person desires a particular object and then acts upon it.

Because of this theory, fans can create thoughtful predictions about the show’s ending and how this concept impacts all other characters who are also seeking the Iron Throne.

“You’re going to see an event, a specific period of time and you’re going to see it through several characters’ perspectives,” Adams said. “It really gives you a more full sense of what’s going on in the world.”

Dr. Hugh Davis, an associate professor of English and chair of the Department of Humanities said that looking at “Game of Thrones” with Girard’s theory in mind gives viewers a better understanding of its universe, as well as today’s society.

“I think mimetic desire gives us a pretty interesting way to look at the formation of culture and to understand what’s going on in today’s world,” Davis said. “Everything you see online is driven by mimetic desire.”

Various Piedmont students who are fans of “Game of Thrones” attended Adams’ presentation, giving some a brand new perspective to think about when viewing the show as it moves forward into its final season.

“I hadn’t thought about it like that yet and all of the similarities,” sophomore Julie Dreier said about the two Lannisters. “It’s a little bit easier to understand and a little bit easier to see the foreshadowing, I think.”

Along with his analysis of the show, Adams acknowledged the book series, sharing his own experience as well as the advantages of reading the books if one is a fan of the show and its plot-driven characters.

“I highly recommend the books,” Adams said. “The books were the first thing that I got through up until where Martin’s actually written, of course, and we are now ahead in the show versus where we are in the books.”

Due to this current state of the book series, the conclusion is unknown to all fans of “Game of Thrones,” further encouraging discussion on how the story could end.

“Now the people who’ve read the books are getting a surprise,” Dreier said. “So, that makes it a little bit more enticing to watch.”

Disaster Breaks Out at Piedmont’s Swanson Center by Keaton Benfield

A fire erupted and shortly after, an explosion sounded. Guttural screams for help ripped through the smoke that engulfed the mainstage of the Swanson Center at Piedmont College early Wednesday morning, where many gathered for a play that never had the chance to reach its final act.

Authorities said that the deadly fire resulted in an explosion that collectively injured over 100 people and took the lives of 28. The devastation of the fire left 28 attendees severely burned, while 29 others received multiple injuries in the aftermath. Many victims were trampled by others in a panic to escape the blaze.

“I was calling my mom to tell her I was on my way to come eat lunch,” said Rebekah Hill, a veterinary technician that survived the disaster. “I just saw some smoke and that was it.”

“Because of all the power, all the mock-up props and stuff made out of wood and combustible materials, a fire could start here,” said Fred Bucher, the facilities management and safety director at Piedmont College, in regards to the cause of the incident. “It’s not unusual for a fire to happen in a place like this.”

Despite the normalcy of a fire of this caliber, authorities said that it is still too early to produce evidence leading to a cause, but they did not entirely rule out any cruel intent or terroristic motives, as Homeland Security soon became involved.

More agencies arrived on the scene as nursing students from Piedmont College and firefighters from the Demorest Fire Department, as well as the Habersham County Fire Department, led the last of the victims to safety. The agencies involved aided those in dire need of medical assistance or investigated the evidence that still remained inside the building.

“As things progressed we were requesting additional units, as well as the coroner, Mobile Morgue, Air Life and power companies,” said Lynn Smith of the Habersham Emergency Management Agency, which is responsible for any programs related to emergency preparations in the county.

“We’re there to assist in any way that we possibly can, with anything of this magnitude,” Smith said. “And we provide the equipment and the tools and the manpower that they need that’ll get them here in a timely manner.”

Dave Palmer, the Public Information Officer for District 2 Public Health, said that because of the amount of corpses recovered from the fire, they could not be transported to the same morgue, where the facilities generally have one or two spaces available at a given time. This creates a problem for those affected by the loss of life.

“Funeral homes don’t have a lot of capacity to take care of bodies so that’s where Public
Health and the coroner step in,” Palmer said. “We do find morgue spaces for bodies. We can take care of the dead bodies in a way that’s the right way to handle a body.”

Nurses tended to survivors that huddled together on tarps. Shaken, many victims looked on as an Air Life helicopter from Gainesville, Ga. airlifted those in critical condition. A tarp placed adjacent to theirs held the corpses of the attendees carried out of the Swanson Center. As the coroner pronounced those individuals as deceased, it reminded the survivors that they are lucky to be alive.

The disaster remains under investigation and officials are looking into any direct links that could provide them with answers as to why this event occurred.

A Passion for Piedmont: Dr. Stephen Whited Profile Story By Keaton Benfield

In the philosophy of Dr. Stephen Whited, Piedmont College offers students a unique learning opportunity, the community aspect of a small college, that is crucial to creating and fostering an environment for exceptional learning.

“My hope is that people will realize that this is an awesome opportunity to dig in and be independent and take control of your education,” said Dr. Stephen Whited, a professor of English at Piedmont College. “You’re surrounded by people who help you with this and you’re not doing this alone.”

Whited found his way to Piedmont College 25 years ago, but before he became the English professor that he is today, he really didn’t expect to have such a passion for English as a major.

“It never occurred to me to be one,” Whited said. “Once I was in it, I loved it.”

“Some of it was just kind of following an instinct, it really wasn’t a plan,” Whited said. “It was an instinct that worked out.”

After receiving his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in English and poetry from Georgia State College, Whited went on to receive his doctorate in English from the University of Kentucky. He began to harness his appreciation for English through teaching experience.

“At the University of Kentucky I liked it,” Whited said. “I was kind of getting the hang of this thing of asking people questions and pestering them to think a little bit.”

In 1993, after teaching at another small college near Lake Michigan, Whited decided to move south and he finally discovered Piedmont College.

“It’ll be 26 years in August,” Whited said. “It’s been a good run, and I’ve had a lot of fun.”

While teaching at Piedmont, Whited integrated a game into some of his courses. This game gives his students a direct approach to the subjects discussed, as well as an appreciation for the history the games represent.

“It’s kind of a hyper setup of a debate,” Whited said. “All of them are arranged around some historical moment. By playing the game you not only have to know the history, you argue it out to see what would happen, and you learn that history sounds like a roll of the dice. It’s life!”

Allyson McCollum, a 21-year-old junior English major, had the opportunity to experience two classes involving these games.

“People were invested in their roles,” McCollum said. “The ones in ‘Nature Writers’ were more difficult because they were newer, but they were still kind of enjoyable.”

Alongside teaching, Whited also took over the reins of the Piedmont chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, known as Alpha Delta Phi, an international English Honor Society.

“I was in Sigma Tau Delta when I was an undergraduate, and it started here right after I got here,” Whited said. “It’s a club for people who like to read. It tends to be English majors, but we do have people from other humanities and departments, and I would like for it to be a bigger blend of that.”

Emily Pierce, a 21-year-old senior English major and social justice minor, is the current president of Sigma Tau Delta at Piedmont College. Looking to the future, she hopes the club continues to grow and prosper.

“We tend to go to the Shakespeare Tavern every semester and many of our members go to conferences,” Pierce said. “I’ve had hopes for the club that haven’t panned out, but I haven’t given up on them, either.”

Whited encourages students to explore their interests, adding that he does not regret any of his college experiences. He only wishes that he knew about Piedmont College during his undergraduate years.

“If I were an undergraduate right now, I would do this in a heartbeat,” Whited said, referring to Piedmont College. “I just think it’s a great little school.”

Whited’s enthusiasm for inspiring students to achieve their goals shines through his teaching and he wants students to appreciate the time they get to spend at Piedmont.

“I just hope people realize that this is a great little place, and a great opportunity to learn,” Whited said. “You’ll never have it again.”

Keaton Benfield: The Past, Present, and on to the Future!

Ever since I was little I knew immediately that I wanted to have a career involving two things that I loved doing the most: reading and writing… I just didn’t know how to get there. Growing up I was a very avid reader and the video games that my older sister let me play on her Nintendo 64 when I was little showed me that the imagination can take you absolutely anywhere and can let you create anything you set your mind to. Those moments of my childhood fueled my intense interest in rich storytelling, pop culture, and video games, whose influences have found their way into my own writing.

My English/ Language Arts teachers throughout middle school and high school taught me how to find my own voice through my writing and I’ve built upon those lessons ever since, constantly trying to improve in any possible way that I can.

During my senior year of high school, my English teachers, as well as my family, encouraged me to send some of my work to the Young Georgia Authors. So with nothing to lose I submitted a piece called “The Power of Words” which led me to receive the award for my grade level and that motivated me to write even more, to improve upon what I’ve already accomplished. I also had some of my own art pieces published in seasonal books that collected works from every high school in the United States. However, I have not gotten to pursue anything in that field since then due to my current focus being on my English degree as well as the future.

Now, as a junior at Piedmont, I have gotten the opportunity to speak at the Pop Culture Association of the South Conference (or PCAS) in New Orleans, Louisiana where I presented my paper, “The Nietzschian Superman and Crime Noir,” and with constant support and feedback from my family, boyfriend and friends, I am currently planning out what I may choose to do after I graduate from Piedmont with a B.A. in English and quite possibly a minor in Mass Communications/ Journalism. Whether that involves continuing my education, moving on into graduate school or even sending off a portfolio of my work to various outlets that revolve around pop culture and the gaming community for possible future employment options, whatever I may choose to do, I believe that I will enjoy anything that leads me closer to pursuing the job I’ve always dreamed of.