The University of West Georgia’s 2015 Undergraduate Research Conference was Thursday, November 12. This academic conference was an opportunity for English majors to showcase their research papers that were written either this semester or the previous spring semester. Although the conference was mainly for English majors, I appreciated how the faculty encouraged the general student body to attend. Faculty wanted them to ask questions about specific topics and to get an idea about the type of research English students perform on a regular basis.
There were a total of six panels that students could attend, and I enjoyed how diverse they all were. I especially enjoyed being able to decide which panel I wanted to attend based on my own personal interests. From discussing gender in a Jane Austen novel to discussing horror films, each panel offered something intriguing and meaningful for the students. I chose the panel sponsored by Dr. Kevin Casper called “Indecent Exposure: Humor in American Literature and Film.” Students Courtney Arndt, Katherine Trial, Destin Gordon, William Brown and Wanjiku Kihanya all spoke on the panel.
The humor panel sparked my attention the most because it offered a different approach to English studies. The panelists discussed how a particular aspect of humor affects the way an audience responds to literature, films and other texts. The exciting part about this panel was the amount of variation between the texts that were presented. The audience got to see how humor changes from one text to another. Another interesting aspect about the panel was the amount of students and even professors who came out and showed support. A major reason this panel was so successful is because people enjoy laughing and having a good time, even at academic conferences.
The students on the panel presented only a portion of their papers in order to fully engage with the audience, and I enjoyed being able to share my feedback. It was as though the audience was a part of the panel because we were able to contribute just as much as the speakers. Dr. Casper made it clear that he wanted the panel to be more laidback and similar to the way English classes are set up, which is more interactive and discussion-based. Allowing the students to be more involved is what made the panel so stimulating for people who enjoy bringing new ideas to the table.
Based on the amount of laughter in the audience, it was clear that everyone enjoyed how a few of the speakers incorporated humor into their personal introductions and presentations. Part of what makes writing so remarkable is that we have the opportunity to use the techniques that we learn from other writers and creators in our own work. These students proved that they apply and use what they learn in everyday life. Overall, it is safe to say that the 2015 Undergraduate Research Conference was a huge success.
The Undergraduate Research Conference was from 1p.m.-5:30p.m. in the Humanties Building. Panels were held in Rooms 206, 208 and 209.