The UMKC Undergraduate English Council (UEC) and the English Graduate Student Association sponsored an interdisciplinary symposium entitled Conflict and Confluence on Saturday at the Student Union.
The event was broken up into four sessions, as outlined by Associate Professor and Chair Dr. Virginia Blanton in her opening address.
Subject matters ranging from current world conflict, the role and power of words in scholarly writing, the representation of the feminine figure in rhetoric, art and culture and also in-depth analyses of respective scholars such as Joseph Conrad, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville provided the waiting public with a vast variety of literary discussion and presentation.
This year’s conference celebrated the 10th anniversary of the formation of the UEC and offered students the chance to showcase their specific projects in an academically inviting environment.
An exciting addition to this year’s conference was the Guggenheim panel, a collection of panelists contributing to modern and contemporary international art.
The panel consisted of professors from wide-ranging fields such as composition music theory, art and art history, English language and literature and philosophy.
While the Guggenheim panel provided doctoral and professional insight, the conference also heavily incorporated the voices of the students.
The English Graduate Student Association symposium was combined with the UEC symposium this year, as well as including a panel of essays by students in the High School College Partnership. The HSCP students present were the winners of the UMKC English Writing Contest earlier this year.
There was a Guggenheim panel in the middle of the day-long conference with two of the universities’ Guggenheim award winners, Dr. Elijah Gowin and Dr. Christie Hodgens. Roze Brooks, UEC member and U-News staff writer, moderated the discussion, which ranged from their personal projects and the effect the award has had on their teaching and interactions with students.
Gowin actually started offering internships to some of the students in his classes to help with his project.
Current UEC President Sara Evans received an English Department Service award, while UEC Vice-President Alison Potts was also awarded the honor at the event’s conclusion. As part of their organizational duties this year, the pair has worked tirelessly to incorporate events such as Guerrilla poetry, Spelling Bees, symposiums and even Quidditch games into the UEC’s calendar.
Perhaps the most impressive area of their work has been the massive results in participation, as they, in conjunction with UEC Advisors Ben Moats and Henri Wood, have increased participation by 100 percent.
Showing great regard for the succession and history of the progam, last year’s UEC President Ashaunta Dorch was also honored with a service award.
Graduating seniors with a GPA above 3.8 were also announced and they will receive English department honors at their upcoming graduation. Jason Tyler, Whitney Davenport, Sara Evans, Erin York, Desiree Long, Kenneth Michael Kieffer and Max McBride were among those rewarded for their impressive GPA scores.
York, an English major, gave a presentation entitled “The Last Frontier” in the “Fiction from the Wasteland” panel of the conference.
U-News News Editor Lindsay Adams also participated in this panel, as she performed a short fiction piece named “Death Likes to Monologue.” Evans, also an English major, spoke on “Beating around the Bush: The Elements of Subversion in Australian Song,” in an informative and often amusing paper.
Vincent Hunter Capps presented his paper “Language and Knowledge in Paradise Lost: Queering the Divine” in a panel moderated by Dr. Laurie Ellinghausen. As he neared the end of the presentation, he slowly stripped off his jacket, tie and unbuttoned his shirt, so that his chest tattoo of Satan was clearly visible to the audience.
English Department Chair Dr. Stephen Dilks was impressed with the turnout at the conference, highlighting the incorporation of the UEC, English Graduate Student Association and HSCP into the event as a progressive move.
“The purpose of the symposium is to help students gain confidence as intellectuals participating in an academic community,” Dilks said. “Our hope is that students will see that the projects they work on, including essays, poems, and stories, are not just ‘exercises’ but are a valuable part of the work universities do as institutions designed to defend freedom of expression and the exchange of ideas.”