English Department Hosts Third English Graduate Conference

Oct. 24, 2011


FLORENCE, Ala. – The Department of English at the University of North Alabama will host its third annual, largest regional conference for master's and Ph.D level English students across the Southeast Nov. 11-12 in Wesleyan Hall auditorium.

This year's two-day conference will address the concept of the American Dream, and focus on scholarly papers that range in genres such as poetry and film. The conference co-chairs are Dr. Lesley Peterson, associate professor of English, and Bradley Sides, a current English graduate student. Sides said some of the papers that will be presented feature a variety of topics, including the popular TV series “Glee,” American novelist Cormac McCarthy and older dramas.

Peterson and Sides challenged graduate students across the region to examine issues within their essay proposals, including language, gender, sexuality, the body, materialism, imperialism, militarism/pacifism, immigration and globalization. Graduate students were asked to address how readers and critics define the concepts of success and the American dream today.

“Presenting a conference paper is a big part of the professional experience,” Peterson said. “Conferences can be a lot of fun for students to be in a room full of people who share the same interests. It's about making connections and networking.”

Approximately 20 presenters at UNA and across the Southeast will present scholarly papers for the chance to win cash prizes for $150 (first place), $100 (second place) and $50 (third place). A panel of three UNA faculty members in the Department of English will act as judges of the scholarly works. A second panel, including UNA faculty Will Verrone, Lesley Peterson and Nicholas Mauriello, will present information on getting published.

Members of the English department will also take part in a play “The American Dream” Nov. 10-11 at 7:30 p.m. in Wesleyan auditorium in preparation for the conference. Written by playwright Edward Albee, the performance will be a one-hour, one-act satire on American family life.

“The American Dream” will be directed by adjunct English faculty member Amy Nelson and include Dr. Lesley Peterson as mommy, Dr. Larry Adams as daddy, Grace Simpson as grandma, Vance Parrish as the young man and Nelson as Mrs. Barker. Admission is free.

“We tried to come up with a (conference) theme that was inviting and included people working in a number of areas,” Peterson said. “The American dream embraces works from the early days of immigration in the 16th and 17th centuries to very contemporary stuff.”

The conference will take place Nov. 11 from noon to 8:30 p.m. And Nov. 12 from 8 a.m. To 4 p.m. For more information, contact the conference committee at Englishgradcon@una.edu or call the Department of English at 256-765-4238.