The Department of English at Eastern Illinois University will host the annual English Studies Student Conference from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 5 on campus.
“This year we made an effort to increase the size and professionalization of the conference,” said Melissa Ames, professor of English and director of English Education. “We have more panels derived from various English courses, graduate students acting as panel moderators, two different alumni lunch sessions and the newly added keynote address.”
The student and alumni panels will take place in the third floor classrooms from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Coleman Hall, and the keynote address will be held at 2 p.m. in the Roberson Auditorium in Lumpkin Hall.
The nine panels, each comprised of three to six students, will be presented by undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of English. The topics include Shakespeare; Literature, Fashion, and Metanarratives; Creative Teaching in the High School Classroom; Time and Genre; Teacher Research; and Intersectional Forces and Resistance in Early 20th Century African American Life.
Several alumni from the Department of English will return to campus to talk with attendees during two lunch panels. One group of alumni panelists will share their post-graduation success stories in graduate programs, internships and new professional careers made possible from the skills gained in English studies at EIU. The second group will discuss their experiences as student teachers, substitute teachers, first-year teachers and seasoned veterans.
Q & A sessions will follow both alumni panels providing attendees the opportunity to ask questions concerning marketing oneself as an English major, navigating the job hunt, deciding on specialization, classroom experiences and more.
“Attending the English Studies Conference is an opportunity to engage with the exciting creative and scholarly work that undergraduate students, graduate students, and recent alumni are doing in the various fields of English studies,” Ames said. “Attendees will learn about the impact that professionals in the discipline are having in the local community.”
For the keynote address, Audrey Petty will read from her most recent work, “High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing,” a creative ethnographic work that provides first-person accounts from former residents of the now-demolished, iconic high-rise housing projects of Chicago.
Petty is an associate professor of English at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She writes fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction.
Her stories have been published in such journals as African American Review, StoryQuarterly, Callaloo, and The Massachusetts Review. Her poetry has been featured in Crab Orchard Review and Cimarron Review, and her essays have appeared in Saveur, ColorLines, The Southern Review, Oxford American, Cornbread Nation 4, Gravy, and the Best Food Writing anthology.
The event is free to attend and open to the public. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Advance registration is not required.