The Literature and Culture Conference is Coming

More stories from Ashley Goyco


The Literature and Culture Conference is making its annual return on Saturday, April 14, 2018. The upcoming conference will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., in the Reilly Room. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.
Dr. Maura Brady, a professor of English, explained that the purpose for students to participate in the Literature and Culture Conference was for them to take their writing to the next level.
“Back before the conference started, students were writing some great papers about literature, but that work wasn’t really leaving the classroom,” she said. “The conference gives them a chance to present their work to a wider audience, polish and ‘professionalize’ themselves, and continue the conversation about literature with other students and professors.”
Kaelin Foody, the president of the English Club, explained that the Literature and Culture Conference does not have a specific theme and that it’s not really about any one thing. The paper topics usually relate to whichever English classes are offered during the academic year, Foody explained.
“While typically we receive only English papers, we encourage submissions from any discipline so long as they engage in some way with literature,” Foody said.
Jonathan Roberts, a previous participant who presented on the topic of monstrosity at the Spring 2017 conference, recalled what he gained from his experience in the conference.
“It’s always great to practice public speaking, and I was really challenged to translate my paper into a logical argument when read aloud to an audience not intimately familiar with my research,” he said. “Additionally, having the opportunity to defend my research in front of a panel of professors helped me determine the strengths and weaknesses of my argument.”
​Hailee Claycomb, another previous participant who presented on the topic of self-preservation in a family at the Spring 2017 conference, claimed that the conference helped her speaking and presenting skills.
​“My essay was created as a paper for an American ethnic literature class, so it needed to be clear and appropriate for the audience. I also needed to ensure I spoke carefully and slowly, and that I was appealing to the audience so that they may understand my essay,” she said. “Public speaking was essential in conveying my thesis because if people could not hear me or if I was not getting my point across, then my paper was irrelevant.”
“Only a few had actually read the essay and the rest relied on my words to communicate my message,” she continued. “It was important that I was open, I made eye-contact, and I strived for a personal connection with the audience rather than simply reading my words off a paper.”
Foody claimed that participating in the Literature and Culture Conference has other added benefits than just strengthening speaking and writing skills. “You can put your participation on your CV, and if students are interested in pursuing a career in academia, it’s really great practice for the rest of your career,” she said.
This is the 14th Annual Literature and Culture Conference, hosted by the English Club. The Literature and Culture Conference was founded by Dr. Ann Ryan, a professor of English.
“We really worked hard to encourage submissions and attendance this year,” Foody said, noting that a few times the conference had been canceled due to the lack of submissions.
Each year, the English Club receives funding from the Student Government Association to organize the conference. The funding is reliant upon the English Club’s budget and whether or not the Organizational Financial Review Committee, a student-run committee which allots budget money to particular clubs, gives them full funding.
Students submit essays of five pages to the President of English Club, and those essays are reviewed by the English Club officers not participating in the conference. The only requirements are that the essays must engage with literature in some way and must be able to be read aloud in under ten minutes.
This year, there are roughly 25 submissions with topics relating to Shakespeare, Medieval Literature, students’ experiences on the Literary Paris trip, and monstrosity.
The conference is open to everyone who would like to listen to students present their scholarly work. The English Club invites not only other students and faculty as audience members but also friends and family of the presenters. Last year, the keynote speakers were a panel of faculty members who discussed the publication process.
“The keynote speaker for this year has not yet been chosen. The English Club is considering having a panel of English alumni,” Foody explained.
Dr. Brady encourages students to participate in the Literature and Culture Conference because “it’s the Room Where It Happens!”
“Just like Hamilton, only instead of talking politics and trying to outmaneuver everybody else, we’re talking literature and making connections. People listen very closely to the papers at this conference,” she said. “They ask questions and make comments to draw out what’s interesting about them, and to link them with what other people are saying, so the vibe is supportive and collective, not antagonistic at all. It’s a real room buzz, because we’re all thinking together about fascinating stuff. A natural intellectual high.”