Conferences offer a unique opportunity to continue your passion for literature, and we encourage our graduate English students to consider presenting a paper at a conference as part of their St. Thomas academic experience. Besides getting constructive feedback from conference participants about your paper topic and building self-confidence in your public speaking skills, attending and presenting at a conference can also help you round out a curriculum vitae, especially if you plan to go on for a doctorate in English. It will also allow you to make contacts with other academics and perhaps give you the opportunity to see and hear some of the major authorities in your field.
To make this opportunity a more affordable option, the graduate English program provides up to $500 of grant funding per student per academic year to cover transportation, hotel, and registration fees. A Conference Participation Grant Application must be submitted to the Graduate Program Director for prior approval and should include written confirmation of the student’s participation. The maximum amount of Conference Participation Grant Award per academic year per student is $500, pending the director's approval. The grant funds will be disbursed after the paper has been delivered at the conference and the original receipts have been submitted to the Graduate Program Coordinator for processing.
The Call for Papers (CFP) website, sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania's Department of English, is the major source of information for locating conferences. Other sources for locating conference opportunities are your professors, the bulletin board in the graduate student commons room (JRC 356), professional journals/newsletters in the field (such as PMLA), or CFP emails sent to UST student accounts by the Graduate Program Coordinator.
Assistance about how to write a proposal is always available from our professors; they have written successful proposals and presented a paper at more than one conference and are happy to help students prepare. When it comes to putting together a paper proposal, ask your professor for samples of successful proposals that they've written. Get right to the point when making your argument in the proposal and don't frontload it with lots of references to secondary sources. Highlight what is new and original about your work.
The UST graduate English program hosts a conference each spring, usually in April or early May. This is a great conference to get "your feet wet," so to speak, and a comfortable way to try your hand at presenting a paper in familiar surroundings. The majority of students presenting are from St. Thomas, but graduate students from the five-state region, including those from the University of Minnesota, Minnesota State University Moorhead, North Dakota State University, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire have also presented papers at this conference. The conference program for the Spring 2015 UST Graduate English Conference, titled "Postcards from the Edge: Texts and Contexts," can be found on the conference webpage.