English Department hosts 2019 Undergraduate Conference on Literature, Language, and Culture
- Author: Dillon Miller
- Author: Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019
Senior Rook Jones reads their paper "Dear Freud" as moderators DJ Cox and Megan Malone listen
The WKU Department of English held its annual Undergraduate Conference on Literature, Language, and Culture last Friday, November 22. The conference is designed to give undergraduate students a chance to experience what it is like to present their work professionally.
The conference lasted for four hours in total and featured four panels of students. Each panel consisted of 3-4 students, and each panel was centered on several themes. These themes included feminism, identity, virtue, politics, rhetoric, and psychology.
Students presented their papers to the audience and took questions after each panel was finished. Lauren Sheppard, a junior English for Secondary Teachers major from Spring Hill, TN, was one of the speakers in the conference. She shared her thoughts on the event and commented on the professional experience it provided her.
“It was a pleasure to hear the thoughts and ideas of my fellow students,” said Sheppard. “I appreciate any experience I can get in public speaking because I know that practicing such an essential skill will help me when I am an English teacher.”
The papers presented were selected from the pool of submissions over the past several weeks by a panel of graduate students. Dr. Hovet, Professor and Co-organizer of the conference, stressed the value of these graduate students’ contributions.
“Most importantly, every year graduate students in the English MA and MFA programs do the hard work of selecting the participants (in an average year fewer than one-third of submissions are accepted for the conference), organizing them into panels, and moderating the event,” said Hovet.
Students, faculty, and the general public were invited to the conference to support students and their work. Dr. Gillian Knoll, Assistant Professor and Co-organizer of the conference, shared her thoughts on the overall success of the conference.
“This year’s conference was a great success, largely because of the level of student engagement,” said Knoll. “The papers were diverse and insightful—they really reflected the creativity and intellectual curiosity of our English majors. I was impressed by the overall energy of the conference.”
Dr. Knoll also shared what she and other attendees took away from this year’s conference.
I think most of us who attended the conference were inspired by the variety of topics, perspectives, and formats of the presentations,” said Knoll. “I wouldn’t have thought to write a letter to a philosopher or critic like Rook’s ‘Dear Freud,’ but as soon as I heard that paper, I started thinking of letters I’d like to write! I hope others were similarly inspired to read something new or think differently.”
There were four winners selected for the "Best in Conference" award by vote, and the winners were as follows: 4th place, Rook Jones from Louisville, KY for their paper "Dear Freud"; 3rd place, Adrianna Waters from Florence, KY for her paper "Spinning Stereotypes: Shahrazad’s Storytelling Skills in ‘Sinbad the Sailor'"; 2nd place, Rachel Thomas from Utica, KY for her paper "The Church and the Chumps: How Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X Address Their Respective Audiences"; and 1st place, Dillon Miller from White Mills, KY for his paper "Voltaire & Virtue."
The program for the 2019 Undergraduate Conference on Literature, Language, and Culture can be found here.