Grad conference explores American dream

UNA’s English department will host the third annual English graduate conference in Wesleyan Hall auditorium Nov. 11-12. This is the largest regional conference for graduate students in the Southeast.

Approximately 20 presenters will be competing to win cash prizes, which range from $150 (first place), $100 (second place) and $50 (third place). Three English department faculty members will act as judges.

Each year, the conference organizing committee selects a theme for the conference. This year’s conference theme focuses on the American Dream. Graduate students have proposed papers that focus on what constitutes the American Dream and what might make one successful. Several paper topics will be discussed, including a paper about the American TV series “Glee.”

“Students can expect to hear ideas about interesting works of literature, film and television,” said Dr. Lesley Peterson, conference co-chair and associate professor of English at UNA. “Students can learn a new way of thinking about works that are already familiar to them. For graduate students who attend, it will be a valuable opportunity to get together with other apprentice scholars.”

Each year, proposals are accepted and reviewed blindly-which means judges will not know the proposals’ authors prior to judging.

“Not every proposal is accepted,” Peterson said. “So (attendees) can expect to hear scholarship, because the proposals have been through the peer review process.”

This year’s conference will include six panels: the American Nightmare, Staging the Dream, Barriers to the Dream, Defining the Dream, Crime & the American Dream and Realism & the American Dream. Dr. Nicholas Mauriello, Dr. Will Verrone and Peterson will take part in an extra panel, which will focus on how to get published. Typical panels include three 20-minute paper presentations. A discussion period follows the presentations, so students in the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions.

This year’s conference will also feature a play directed by faculty member Amy Nelson entitled, “The American Dream.” The performance will take place Nov. 10-11 at 7:30 p.m. in Wesleyan Hall auditorium. This one-act satire written by Edward Albee focuses on the American family life. Admission is by donation, and all are welcome to attend.

The conference is open to everyone and will take place from noon to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 11 and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 12.