WKU Department of English to host 2019 Undergraduate Conference on Literature, Language, and Culture
- Author: Dillon Miller
- Author: Friday, November 15th, 2019
On Friday, November 22, the WKU Department of English will host the 2019 Undergraduate Conference on Literature, Language, and Culture. Dr. Ted Hovet, one of the conference’s organizers, explains that the conference is designed to give undergraduate students a chance to experience what it is like to professionally present their work.
“It is modeled after a typical academic conference in the humanities, with the student presenters organized into panels that share a similar theme,” said Hovet. “It is designed to give undergraduates the experience of reading their writing to an audience and to celebrate the great critical and analytical work done by English students at WKU.”
To submit to the conference, students take an original, critical work revolving around literature, language, film, culture, rhetoric, creative writing, etc. and submit it to a panel of judges. The panel is composed of graduate students in the English Department. Dr. Hovet emphasized the pivotal role that graduate students have in the conference:
“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 cover all different types of topics in the conference. Dr. Gillian Knoll, another of the conference’s organizers, sees this diversity as a representation of the English department’s dynamic nature.
“Some of us work more in rhetoric, some in linguistics, some focus on literature, and others study other media like film and podcasts,” said Knoll. “The themes and ideas that students explore in their papers continue to expand.”
The conference is always held in late November. As many students know, this time is one of the busiest of the school year. Dr. Knoll encourages students to attend the conference and to submit their own work in order to validate their skills and to support each other during this busy time.
“It’s a busy time of year and this is an energizing conference,” said Knoll. “It reminds us of who we are and the stakes of our work. And it is inspiring to hear other people’s ideas!”
Adrianna Waters, a senior creative writing major from Florence, KY participated in the conference last year and will be presenting at this year’s conference as well. She notes how the conference had a positive effect on her and how it strengthened her identity as an English major.
“Last year, I presented my linguistics research paper on language use in children's animated films, specifically Aladdin,” said Waters. “Participating in the undergraduate conference really boosted my self-confidence as a writer, speaker, and student. Presenting my work and answering questions during the Q&A session really made me feel like I was a part of the department.”
The organizers of the conference hope that the experience will help students in a variety of ways including strengthening their own public speaking skills, reinforcing their own ideas of the topics presented, and solidifying their identity in the English Department. Dr. Hovet sums up what he believes the conference can give students:
“For all involved it takes academic experience beyond the classroom and into arenas that will further develop an understanding of our field and a love for sharing writing to a wider audience,” said Hovet. “As such, it strongly reinforces WKU's commitment to strong communication (oral and written), critical thinking, active learning, and especially student engagement.”
The 2019 Undergraduate Conference on Literature, Language, and Culture will take place on Friday, November 22 in CH 125 from 1:00-4:00 PM. The event is free and open to the public.