Almost two years ago, I did something that would immensely impact my life for the better: I attended my first LURe staff meeting. Really, I went because two close friends were on the board and they’d insisted I stop by, and I mostly wanted an excuse to hang out with them. I didn’t really expect much of the meeting. I thought that maybe I’d see that these were “elite” English majors, which I fully expected, and that I’d be too intimidated by their prowess to stay around, and that would be the end of that.
Once I got past the ever-present gloom of Imposter Syndrome, though, I was hooked. Before that meeting, I’d only ever attended the conference LURe co-hosted and I’d heard what my friends had said about presenting and publishing their work. I hadn’t, however, considered what the staff regularly did and why that should appeal to me. Looking back as someone with a love for grammar and writing, I am almost ashamed to admit that I had never even considered that I could be an editor. In my mind, that was something that the better students, the ones who had it all together, should pursue.
That was the first thing LURe taught me: Never assume that everyone around you has it all together, because it’s very likely that they’re all pretending just as much as you are.
My friends, both of whom have graduated now and one of whom has stayed with the journal as our current Editor-in-Chief, reassured me that I was more than capable of doing what LURe needed me to do. Further, if I ever felt unsure, they would be able to help me out. That’s the beauty of a student-run group like this one. There is no shortage of people ready to help out, just as there’s no shortage of people with questions. It’s a learning experience for everyone involved, and I think that makes it better. We are, as I said, students, so we gain new skills through the editing process just as much as we get the opportunity to exercise those that we already have. And should our own abilities fall short of fulfilling what we need at any given time, there are the skills of others to lean on.
As soon as I was invited to do so, I signed on as a staff editor. Here I would begin to fall in love with editing. Paper after paper was assigned, and I absolutely relished in trying to identify weaknesses in an argument’s structure and suggesting alternate arrangements so that it could be its very best. Later in the summer, after several editors found themselves unable to continue working with the journal, I was assigned a few extra papers to edit. And when I was through with those, I asked if there were any more. LURe had awoken in me a voracious appetite for helping the journal and the authors produce the best work possible. Further, it made me constantly want to improve my own editing skills. With each paper, I learned something new, a practice that is still ongoing today.
The second lesson LURe taught me: Grow your abilities and grow confident in them, and good things will come.
As the 2018 edition of the LURe Journal, which would hold my first published paper, began to come closer to its final form, our faculty advisor, Dr. Leah Haught, reached out to me. She both asked me to become a panelist at our 2018 conference, and suggested that I apply for one of two new paid positions with the journal, even though I was fairly new, both because of my extra work and because I still had two semesters left at West Georgia. I applied for and soon got the role of Promotions Editor. This, along with several other spots now on our board, is brand new territory made possible by our National Endowment for the Humanities Grant. As of right now, my job includes running our social media activity and campaigns, as well as designing and hanging flyers for our events across campus. However, we are all still navigating the waters of what, when, and how to post, and it’s been an adventure nailing down the do’s and don’t’s of the position. Between deciding how closely I want to use previous design concepts, learning which hashtags spread posts the farthest, and trying to understand how to build an audience that will appreciate our posts and work, I’ve been put through my paces. As the initial appointee, I’ll get to make a sort of guide for the next person, full of helpful instructions. And, honestly, I’m a little scared to have that pressure on me. My words will be something for the following Promotions Editor to go on and a manual by which to guide their own tenure in the position. That’s got some horrifying potential.
However, I know that the next Promotions Editor, whoever they may be, will be surrounded by incredible people ready to help them. Between Dr. Haught and our current Editor-in-Chief, Keri, there’s more than enough experience with every facet of the journal to have anyone prepared. Again, our team is encouraging of growth through learning. There is no pass or fail here, just a team working together towards something they love.
And that’s the third lesson I’ve learned from LURe: Find what you love, find people who love it, and you’ll never be alone. I’ll be leaving LURe when I graduate this May, and I can honestly say I will be devastated to go. Throughout my time with LURe, I’ve not only worked on the staff and the board, I’ve become a published author and a panelist at our conference. As an author, I can now give a loved one a copy of the journal and say, “Look! I’m in here! I made this thing I’m proud of, and it got published in this other thing I’m proud of!” As a panelist, I got the chance to present my research to a group of like-minded members of academia, rather than just turn it in to a professor for a grade. The audience not only listened to the paper, they engaged with me as a researcher during the Q&A, and I felt heard and respected as opposed to just graded. These experiences have made me realize I am just as “real” and “serious” a student as my peers. I’m also coming away from my time here knowing what I want to do for a career, and editing experience to put towards that. I don’t think I could ask for much more than that. This journal isn’t just a job or a hobby, it’s something that I’ve come to love, and that I think, if you’re willing to do the work, you could love, too.
–Kati Bowden, Promotions Editor, January 2019
I’ve loved reading since I was a little girl. I would spend hours in the local library picking out the perfect books to read, and I would finish them long before I had an opportunity to exchange them. As such, becoming an English major was the natural choice for me when I began college, and it’s a decision that I have never regretted making.
Joining LURe was a decision that was just as natural. I was first invited to apply for an editing position with LURe last spring by Dr. Haught, our faculty advisor. I knew that I was interested the minute she began telling me about me about what I would be doing: reading/editing papers and helping to ensure that LURe is operating smoothly overall. After submitting everything that was necessary as soon as applications opened, I crossed my fingers in hopes that I would be able to serve as an undergraduate staff editor in the upcoming semesters.
When I was told that I had received the position, I was ecstatic that my love of reading from an early age had grown into a job that affords me the priceless opportunity to do what I love daily. In addition to providing me with valuable experience in editing, publishing, and professional communication, I’m privileged with the ability to read papers written by some of the most brilliant minds from universities across the country (and, occasionally, across the world) — in other words, working at LURe is constantly a win.
Even better than getting to read papers, however, was getting to hear them presented at LURe’s Undergraduate Research Conference. Putting the conference together required several meetings, additional planning, and a few hours’ worth of hanging posters, but I know that I speak on behalf of all the LURe staff when I say that the final product justified the work that it took. In my biased opinion, it came together beautifully and was a unifying, celebratory day for all English majors. Additionally, it’s always fascinating to hear fellow students’ research and ideas, and I spent the day visiting different panels and hearing the remarkable products of semester-long studies. I also had the privilege of presenting two of my own papers at the conference, which was a rewarding experience to say the least.
Nevertheless, the best part of the day was the portion immediately following the panel in which attendees were permitted to ask questions about any of the presented papers. Although my second panel also had good questions, my first panel was attended mainly by local high school students who asked countless questions, all of which were both thoughtful and thought-provoking. Listening to their insightful questions made me excited not just for the future of LURe and the University of West Georgia, but for the future of academia, as well.
With the knowledge and experience that I’ve already gained just in the short time that I have worked for LURe, I cannot imagine how much more other editors and I will grow in the following semesters. I’m delighted to have a part in producing a journal that showcases such outstanding undergraduate work in the humanities, and I’m genuinely honored to call myself an editor of LURe. I can only imagine that LURe will continue to grow exponentially as we dedicate our time to it and begin to update the LURe website and journal with valuable changes such as upgrading our publishing software and including more staff and author information, and I look forward to the day that LURe receives all of the recognition that we believe it deserves.
–Summer Rand, Assistant Editor, December 2018
On October 11th, LURe hosted the annual Undergraduate Research Conference, and we had our first Plenary Speaker. As a life-long fan of graphic novels and comics, I very much enjoyed hearing Dr. Bollinger’s presentation on contemporary women’s graphic novels. Her presentation introduced me to the world of creative non-fiction in graphic novels and increased my “to-read” list by three. It was so exciting that my first year with LURe was also our first year with a Plenary Speaker at the conference.
I knew about LURe before this year, but I hadn’t considered joining until Dr. Franks suggested it to me in the spring. I had always enjoyed the chance to edit papers in my classes, so I was definitely interested in working with LURe. Peer-review activities in class were great chances to share your work with others and to give and receive constructive criticism. For me, the journal was an opportunity to do this on a grander scale and get more involved with the English department and my peers. As soon as the Assistant Editor positions were posted in August, I worked on my résumé obsessively, got my references together, and hoped for an interview. By the end of the process, I think my parents and boyfriend were more familiar with my résumé and cover letter than me. I was over the moon to get the position and start working.
I’ve only been with the journal for a couple of months now, but my time has already been filled with a lot of fun and gratification. Although submissions are just starting to roll in, we have had plenty to do in the mean time. Our Spirit Night fundraiser in September was great; I got to meet the staff, and talk about classes, our favorite books and movies, and LURe while eating pizza. Most importantly, we were able to raise money towards our NEH Challenge Grant (while eating pizza). Win-win. The next week I got to practice my public-speaking skills by going to different English classes and giving presentations about the journal to recruit staff members. It was nerve-wracking, but ultimately worth it when I saw people from my presentations at our first content-editing meeting.
By far the biggest event I have been a part of on behalf of the journal is the Undergraduate Research Conference. My favorite part of the conference every year is getting a chance to see what my friends and fellow students have been writing about, and being a part of LURe allowed me to be more involved in the conference than ever, making goodie bags for our presenters, setting up displays with the journals, and attending a panel at every session. In addition to Dr. Bollinger’s presentation on graphic novels, one of the major highlights for me this year was seeing the attendance of some local high school students. They presented at their own panel and stuck around to attend other panels and ask questions during Q&A’s. It was great to see the high school students as involved and interested as we were.
Though I didn’t work on Volume 8 of LURe, it was still amazing to see almost all of our published authors there for the journal release at the end of the conference. It made me excited to get to work on the upcoming journal and read submissions. I’m already picturing myself brewing a pot of coffee and sitting in front of the fire to read everyone’s work (because it is getting very cold and because sitting in front of a fire 100% makes you a better reader and writer). I have already begun assigning papers to our staff with other editors and look forward to editing in earnest. It’s exciting to have already received submissions so soon after the call for papers. As an editorial board member, I’ve had to rely a lot on organizational skills in terms of receiving and assigning papers. The other board members and I had an hour meeting earlier this month discussing how to assign the papers and organize our spreadsheets alone. Rest assured, we’re very into organization and color-coding spreadsheets, so it was a satisfying process and an even more satisfying result. I love that my love of organization has already—and will continue to—come in handy.
Working with LURe is one of the most exciting opportunities that I’ve been given in my time at West Georgia. I’ve only been an English major for a year now, and actually getting a position with the journal has been an incredibly affirming experience. I thought most of my time with the journal would be devoted to reading papers, and while that is certainly a major part of my responsibilities, my experience has already been so much more. I genuinely can’t wait for the work to continue, to grow as an editor and writer myself, and to help get my peers’ writing out there.
–Sonora Lanham, Assistant Editor, October 2018
When you are an English major, chances are your friends or family are going to make crazy assumptions about what you actually do at college (or if you do anything at all). One of those assumptions may be that you are into creative writing. This is problematic. As someone who cannot write creatively to save his life, I do not understand why people think that someone studying English has worth as a writer only in the creative sphere. I have a deep interest that borders on fanaticism concerning the English language, editing, and professional writing. This is one reason that I decided to be an intern for LURe. The other reason came to me during advisement. I had seen the television screen at the entrance to the English department in the TLC, and I watched as the monitor displayed Microsoft Word and the words “Publishing and Editing Certificate.” I was interested. My advisor told me that I should consider getting the certificate in publishing and editing based on the classes I have taken before. One of the requirements for the certification is an internship. I decided that in the fall, I would do the internship with LURe; after all, I had submitted a paper to LURe the previous spring that I was particularly proud of for possible publication.
When fall semester started a month ago, I looked forward to my senior year and the internship. My class-load was not too heavy (I am taking four classes, one of them being Senior Seminar), so I knew that I could handle all of my classes, the internship, and being a dad. As a dad, I am well acquainted with my old friend lack of sleep, so I thought “bring it on!” The semester started without a hitch, and I went to Dr. Haught’s office to talk about the internship. We spoke about the upcoming conference in October, and Dr. Haught gave e my first assignment: to make a display for LURe to go in the library. She handed me all of her volumes of LURe, instructing me to not lose them. I was afraid of my son getting a hold of them, but he’s like two years old and two feet tall, so he didn’t scare me. He started to climb recently, because, you know, toddlers are quickly-evolving mini-humans, so all I had to do was put the volumes on my bookshelf where he couldn’t reach without me using my terrible attempt at an authoritative voice to deter him, so crisis averted. No torn books to reluctantly return to Dr. Haught.
I’m not going to lie; at first, I was a little intimidated. I felt like Jim Halpert in that one episode of The Office where he is assigned a job, and he doesn’t want to ask for help to avoid looking like an amateur. I did not want to seem like I did not know what I was doing, and I was probably being prideful. Dr. Haught, however, was awesome in providing me with a lot of information on LURe as well as giving me guidelines for what to do and when to have it done. With this new information, I pressed on. The first task I did was an interview with Dr. Lisa Crafton concerning the creation of LURe and her thoughts on the journal’s success over the years. After that, I looked at the numbers of submissions and publications over the years, and I thought it would be worthwhile to take note of the number of papers dealing with literary theory, cultural studies, and film. Dr. Haught suggested that I should take a look at how many of the texts are American or British, as well as the time periods. Looking through the volumes was really fun and informative. I found myself reading the pieces instead of my required readings for classes (which I totally read because I am a good student).
I put together visuals showing the differences between the publications, conducted another question and answer with Keri Jones, and finalized all of my findings. When the student activities fair came, I sat outside in the intense heat, which was worth it. Talking with students who really seemed interested in editing was really awesome. I liked hearing from the students who were eager to pick up the flyers and sign their names, saying that they had an idea for a paper they had written before.
My experience as an intern thus far has been very fun and rewarding. Already, I have learned a lot about the journal. For instance, the writers throughout the years really like early British texts, as Medieval and Renaissance texts appear most frequently in the volumes. Postmodern texts are the most popular American texts. Also, students really like writing on gender and sexuality, like a lot. Through all of my digging and questioning, most importantly, I have found that both students and professors are proud of LURe and its impact at UWG. Not only that, but I really feel like I am setting myself up professionally for my future. I want to be an editor and a professor at some time in the future and being an intern for LURe is definitely helping in making this a reality. I am already getting a footing towards developing effective presentations through my work on the display in the library. While working on the display, I have had to balance different approaches to share the information. For example, I felt that too much text was excessive, whereas too many charts were visually clogging.
Inserting all of the charts and formatting the design of the pages that appear in the display also helped me with practice for my Technology for Publishers and Editors class. The class requires you to develop proficient skills in Microsoft applications like Word and Excel. Knowledge of sharing information to a broad audience and the ability to work with computer applications are not only beneficial for my long-term goal of becoming a professor, but these skills enable me to have potential job prospects in an office position, which, after only working in fast food for the past six years, sounds pretty great. All of my practice and work have started to coalesce, showing me that my journey as an English major has been worth the hard work, and that my interests at the end of my undergraduate career have been leading up to what I want to do in the future.
-Shawn Lynn, September 2018
My first semester at West Georgia, I took an English class with Dr. Leah Haught that began my three-year long experience working with LURe. New to the school, I had no idea what UWG’s English Department had to offer in terms of extracurricular activities, but my new friend Angel, the Editor-in-Chief of LURe at the time, invited me to LURe’s next meeting. Though I had little-to-no experience in editing or publishing, the LURe team focused on training me and my fellow staff editors so that we could content edit the incoming submissions. I spent that spring semester pouring over undergraduate work from my peers at West Georgia, and even had the opportunity to have my own work, dealing with the characterization of Lancelot in Le Morte Darthur, considered for publication.
For me, it was so exciting to be featured in a publication, especially for my academic work. I spent at least a month on the research and writing of that paper and remember being so proud when I finally submitted it for a grade. The following semester, Dr. Haught suggested I submit my essay for possible publication. Though I was unsure, I listened to her advice. The day that I held the printed copy was unreal. I never thought I would see my name in a print publication before I finished my undergraduate degree.
The next year, I took a more active role in LURe, as we began to focus on reaching a wider audience and receiving submissions from all over the country. Angel and I continued to work together, this time making an effort to increase LURe’s social media presence and work on a marketing campaign, so we could increase the amount of submissions we received. Throughout this process, I began to value the power of language even more, because our efforts did not go unnoticed. Launching @lurejournal on Twitter made a huge difference in LURe’s visibility as a literary undergraduate research journal and allowed us, as a group, to work toward reading a diverse pool of essay submissions. Not only was I able to hone my social media skills, I enjoyed talking to other literature-minded people across the internet and sharing the ways in which they could also be published. This experience in setting up LURe’s social media and marketing campaign led to invaluable opportunities for me outside of LURe as well; because of this experience, I was accepted into an internship and have developed as a writer, which has led to countless opportunities for presenting my own research.
I’ve been asked by friends before why I work on LURe, and my answer is never simple. Normally, I say that I work on LURe, because I enjoy the work. And yes, it is relevant work experience on my resume, but LURe has also been much more than that for me. I’ve read a multitude of essays from students across the country and have learned so much from my peers, more than I thought possible. Now, as a soon-to-be-graduating senior, I am the Editor-in-Chief of LURe, which I never would have expected three years ago. Since August I have worked with Dr. Haught, as well as our graduate assistant, Hailey Hughes, and our Director of Communication, Keri Jones, to continue improving the journal. At one point last semester, Dr. Haught referred to the upcoming edition of LURe as my “baby,” and I really do feel that way about the journal. In the three years I have been on staff, the journal has grown, not only in staff, but in submissions, published essays, and visibility. I also know that once I graduate in May and begin graduate school elsewhere, that LURe will still thrive, because there is such a need for an undergraduate research journal that celebrates students’ academic work in the humanities.
-Sydney Bollinger, February 2018
This is my last semester as an undergraduate English major at the University of West Georgia, and I aim to earn my master’s degree in English from UWG as well. I joined LURe under the impression that it would be a nice extracurricular for my major, mere editing practice, but as I enter my second year working with the journal, I can look back and see just how diverse the opportunities were and how one’s unique skill set can fill those prospects in unpredictable ways.
As a newly declared English major in my junior year, I was seeking out an opportunity to utilize and improve my writing skills to go along with my major. It was another English major friend of mine who recommended I join LURe, the Literary Undergraduate Research in English Journal that the university hosted. I was told it would be a good chance to practice my editing skills and was immediately interested in the prospect. The only experience I had with LURe at that point was when I participated in the annual Undergraduate Research Conference sponsored by UWG’s English and Philosophy departments and LURe, presenting my research essay from an American Literature course with other students. Thanks to the efforts of both the English department and the LURe team, I was given the opportunity to share my research outside the classroom environment and witness the release of the 2016 edition of the journal at the end of the conference. Here, I saw the results of the hard work the LURe staff had put into the journal the previous year, and I couldn’t wait to join in for the 2017 edition as a member of the editorial staff.
The fall semester of 2016 was when I was brought more directly into the fold of LURe. My first semester as an official member of the editorial team was an exciting one. LURe had received over fifty submissions for possible publication, a record amount, with numerous submissions originating from outside of the UWG system—another big accomplishment! With so many submissions, it was more important than ever that the editorial staff work hard to carefully consider each manuscript. This was where I began to practice the editing I had initially anticipated. Editing was an experience that I was not too familiar with outside of my own work and some of my friends’. Reading a stranger’s essay gave me the opportunity to familiarize myself with other trains of thought and writing styles while also gaining experience in spotting problems in papers that would need to be corrected prior to publication. The entire experience allowed me to rehearse detail-oriented content and line editing, a very valuable skill as an English major. It also gave the editing team insight into publication selection and professional correspondence. The amount of time and work it took to complete the editing and organization for the edition gave me a new appreciation for professional editors whose work impacts our daily lives, though it’s often taken for granted.
I initially assumed editing would be the only skill I would be honing while working with the journal, though I quickly realized the journal would offer me so much more. From the summer of 2017 to the present day, I earned an important role with the LURe team using graphic design and social media, two mediums I hadn’t expected to use when I joined the year prior.
First, I took on the task of creating graphics for social media and the LURe website. Another staff member re-designed the journal’s logo, and alongside her design I created various images to generate a new cohesive design across the LURe sites. I had previous experience in basic graphic design, and consider myself generally artistic, so I enjoyed combining my interests in ways I had not expected when I joined LURe. I felt proud seeing my work being exhibited on the sites as well as on the walls on campus, even more so when I helped design the new cover for the 2017 edition of the journal. During the entire process, I practiced visual cues through my designs, making sure every piece connected to the overall theme we had established for the journal while also ensuring it creatively and coherently engaged the audience who would be viewing it. The experience was fun and a great opportunity to employ my artistry within the professional environment of academic journals.
During that semester, I also became the social media manager, running LURe’s Twitter and Facebook accounts and occasionally the website, promoting the journal and updating followers on calls for papers, LURe events, and conference information. In this sense, I practice social media marketing. These days, most of us use social media, but rarely do we have the chance to use it for a larger purpose beyond our daily lives, where the focus is trained on a grander idea or company and not the self. Doing so forced me to consider my audience and message with intent, rather than conforming to the echo chamber. Social media presence only becomes more important as we move into the future, and the experience of running an organization’s social media allowed me to practice maintaining professionalism along with engagement.
I had no idea that I could gain such experience when I decided to join the LURe team, but I am grateful that I can say I was able to utilize unexpected, yet useful, skills in my extracurriculars. Though I initially joined LURe to enhance my editing skills—and no doubt was I able to do that—I found that there is a wider opportunity to use one’s individual skills in any given field.
The final product of our hard work from the spring and summer came to fruition in October of 2017 at the annual undergraduate conference, the same one I had attended the year before at UWG where I was first introduced to LURe. This time, I felt much more involved, as the members of LURe worked alongside the English department to spread the word for students to participate in the conference. Thus, not only did we hold a call for papers for the journal, we also called for papers for the undergrad conference, making that two different events in the year to exhibit the research students have worked so hard on. I participated once again in the conference, presenting a paper from a Film as Literature class focusing on cyborgs; the panel I was on specifically focused on the feminine agency in cyborg films. Afterwards, the LURe staff gathered for a Meet the Authors event to celebrate the release of the 2017 edition of the journal we had worked so hard on throughout the year, and seeing the physical journals on the table (framed around the cover I had designed) filled me with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Standing alongside my fellow LURe staff members, I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for the future of LURe. During my master’s degree, I hope to continue my involvement with LURe and working with continuing and new staff to bring out the best of the journal’s potential moving forward.
As a member of the LURe journal staff, I have participated in reviewing, editing, and publishing manuscripts, but I was also able to leave a significant and unique mark in the form of graphic design and social media management, promotion, and engagement, all of which are aspects to an academic journal that are often forgotten. I am very grateful to be a part of the team that allows me to utilize these skills as well as publish amazing volumes of student research that are oh-so familiar to an English major.
-Keri Jones, January 2018
It was a quarter past six on a warm fall evening. Sydney Bollinger, the editor-in-chief of LURe, and I, a newly-minted graduate assistant at UWG, sat across from each other in a local coffee shop, our laptops on the tables in front of us. From afar, it might have looked like we were concentrating on an intense game of Battleship, but it was crunch time: the final, copy-edited version of the LURe: Literary Undergraduate Research Journal was due in just a few days. Our editorial staff complied the issue’s articles in one universal Google Doc folder, replete with marginalia and line-edits. I scrolled down and down and down. This would be a massive undertaking, indeed.
“I’m going to start approving these line edits. Do you want to look at some of the bibliography pages?” Sydney asked.
“Yeah, and then, we can switch if we can get tired.” I said, and stood up to order a frozen cappuccino.
For the next two hours, Sydney and I approved line-edits, collaborated on final editorial decisions, and consulted Purdue OWL’s MLA Formatting and Style Guide to double-check MLA 8 guidelines. My frozen coffee thawed and became slush, but we finished. As I reflect on that evening, it occurs to me that if Sydney and I hadn’t worked together, I would have been too overwhelmed to finish the final stages of this issue. Shout out to the rest of the editorial staff: your marginalia and line edits were invaluable in helping us agree on important decisions; one of our staffers, for instance, offered an example of how to appropriately cite sources from the same author. It might sound cheesy or a little cliché, but I valued and learned about effective team work as a new member of this staff. Almost everyone as a horror story about working on a class project with their peers; maybe you did all the work, while the rest of the group rode on your coattails, or one group member didn’t contribute at all, so the rest of the group had to pick up the slack. Our editorial staff delegated duties effectively and helped each other. Like, when we needed some additional eyes to complete various revisions on bibliography pages, two of our new staffers offered to help.
As someone who came on staff during the final stages of the publication process, I was also amazed at the quality of work we published. From an analysis of disability in Melville’s Moby Dick to an article centered on Katniss in The Hunger Games, I was impressed with the divergent content and in-depth analyses in this issue. It was gratifying to feel the weight of the book when I picked one up at the Undergraduate Research Conference.
Speaking of the conference, I had the good fortune of attending and listening to passionate students discuss their research. Dr. Haught, our faculty advisor, asked me to monitor the refreshments, direct lost students to their presentation rooms, and attend presentations. I snagged an oatmeal cookie and settled in for a panel on Chaucer’s work. As I munched on my cookie, I was pleasantly surprised that each panelist adopted an appropriate “Chaucerian” accent when quoting from their primary source. The panelists discussed gender roles, Judaism, and answered audience questions like seasoned professionals.
One of my favorite panels that I attended was a panel entitled “The Documentary.” I write Creative Nonfiction, so I was stoked to hear that some of the ethical concerns and craft decisions are similar. I mentally reminded myself to check if each film was streaming on Netflix. One of the panelists presented her paper, Welcome to Leith and Its Unanswered Questions about Filmmaking and White Supremacy,” in which she discussed the ethics of filmmaking—namely whether it is a documentarian’s responsibility to confront ethical issues, such as condemning white supremacy and racism. These are the same ethical issues that underpin writing and how one’s subjectivity can affect one’s work. It pleased me that, like the rest of the conference, students presented on such divergent subjects; indeed, Brian Harris’ paper was centered around a rock ‘n’ roll documentary. The English field inspires, of course, analyses not only of literature, but of cultural studies and film.
Sometimes when I write alone in my room or attend class, I wonder about my classmates’ work—their creative or literary passions. The conference allowed me to have a glimpse into this work and it was a wonderful opportunity to mingle with professors and students who love the English field as much as I do. My plans to attend next year are solidified because I began to see my peers as colleagues. The conference also illustrated how academia can bring us together to confront social issues and ethical quandaries.
-Hailey Hughes, January 2018