Presenting at an English Conference

The CSU Undergraduate English Conference is designed to model for CSU students the experience of attending, and presenting at, a professional conference in their field.

As a way of sharing new ideas and research, a couple of times a year, scholars in their various disciplines -- journalism, literary studies, creative writing -- get together in a “conference setting” to present new work. Usually, these conferences are large affairs with hundreds or thousands of delegates and many panels taking place at the same time; they also feature several keynote lecturers and shared meals.

In hosting this event for students, the CCSU English Department has scaled this down considerably for our students, although we will have panels from all four of the CSU schools this year. When we receive the conference abstracts and titles, we organize panels of three to four like-minded scholars (in terms of theme and discipline). Each student will “read” (while looking up from time to time, engaging the audience with eye contact and verbal asides) a 15-minute paper, which equals about a 6-page document, double-spaced, using Times New Roman font, size 12. These presentations allow students to share some of the solid work they have done in their CSU English classes. If you're sharing a paper longer than 5 or 6 pages, you probably want to edit it down to something that can be presented effectively in the time allowed. After each student presents his/ her work, there is time for the audience members (ranging in number from about 3-20) to respond with connections, further thoughts, and questions. There will be a moderator to introduce all of the panelists and to run the Q&A portion.

Generally, it helps to have a handout for your own presentation, containing your name and email address, the title of your paper, an overview of your thesis, key quotations you interpret to support your thesis, a list of questions to consider further, and a list of Works Cited.

Dress should be business casual: slacks or skirt, a nice shirt, sweater, or jacket. Keep it simple and professional. You do not want your audience to be distracted by your attire.

The entire event this year takes place from 12:00-4:00. It will begin with lunch and a keynote speaker that everyone will attend. After that, the panelists will break into smaller groups. Each session is about 60-75 minutes (enough time for three-four presentations and then the discussion period afterward.) We will design and circulate a conference program with contributors’ names, paper titles, presentation times and locations, so you know where to be and when. You may want to save this program for future documentation of your involvement in the profession.

Thank you very much for participating in this exciting event. We hope you learn some things and meet new people, but mostly, that you have fun throughout the afternoon, having solidified what you most likely already believe: That scholarship in writing and literature is often most rewarding when it is shared with other people.