UWF English Students’ Research Highlighted on National Stage
Pensacola – Students in the University of West Florida’s Department of English have recently gotten the opportunity to present their research at prestigious conferences across the country.
“Over the past few years UWF has made some great strides forward in terms of supporting research, both graduates and undergraduates,” said Dr. Gregory Tomso, chair of the Department of English. “With the Office of Undergraduate Research, and the new money coming from UWF’s Center for Research and Economic Opportunity, we have a lot more financial support to offer our students. These incentives make a huge difference in their ability to conduct research, travel to present their work and attend national and international conferences.
“We are having a really good year, and I expect that to continue because we have all of these wonderful supports in place for our students,” Tomso said.
Among the UWF students whose work has been highlighted on a national stage is Erica Miller. A graduate student, Miller presented her research paper, “The Materiality of Time and Temporal Identity in Margaret Cavendish’s Natural Philosophy,” at the conference “Performance and Materiality in Medieval and Early Modern Culture” held March 11-12 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
“It’s a graduate studies colloquium that they have every year, but it’s where they’re bringing all the Ph. D. students from the Ivy League to give talks about their research,” said Dr. Katherine Romack, an associate professor in the Department of English. “It’s really for advanced graduate students, and she was the youngest one accepted. Her paper was very well received.”
Cavendish was a 17th-century writer, scientist, poet and philosopher. Miller said her paper “explored Cavendish’s anticipation of the problems that accompany the separation of time and space dimensions.”
The paper “focused on the concept of the materialization of time, theories of spatiotemporal continuity and identity variations in particle matter,” she said.
Despite being the youngest presenter at the conference, Miller said she was asked the most questions on her panel.
“I was able to network with a number of people who are working in reputable programs and were more than willing to offer me advice and direction about finding the right fit in a doctoral program,” Miller said.
Tomso said the enthusiastic reception to Miller’s work at the conference shows that UWF is investing in its students and getting them the professional training they need.
“We get to see the results of their hard work, and our hard work, when they go on the national stage and do very well,” Tomso said.
Another UWF graduate student, Kent Langham, presented his essay “Beauty through Nobility: Finding Victorian Identity through Aesthetics in Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’” at the History Graduate Student Association conference held in March at Florida State University.
Langham said his essay explored “the Victorian aristocracy’s unconscious pressures on the middle class to identify with it in appearance and lifestyle, which, much like Dorian Gray, leads to the middle class’s destruction.”
Langham also presented another of his essays “Denial of Self in Jane Eyre,” at the Women’s Studies Conference held March 21 at UWF. He will also present his essay “Christ’s Qualifying Period in ‘Paradise Regained’” at the Conference on Christianity and Literature, which will be held April 28-30 at Montreat College in Montreat, North Carolina.
UWF graduate student Terry Griner presented his research in 18th century colonial American poetry at both the international Sigma Tau Delta English International Convention in Minneapolis and the UWF Women’s Studies Conference.
Four undergraduate students also presented papers at the Sigma Tau Delta International Convention. Among those students was Nathan Marona, who presented his paper that examined the exoticization of language in Matthew Lewis’ Gothic novel “The Monk,” Romack said.
UWF undergraduate students Faith Green, Malorie Barstrom and Katrina Brownsberger attended the 44th annual meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America held March 23-26 in New Orleans. The meeting featured book and digital exhibits, performances, workshops, seminars and large sessions on topics ranging from literary analysis of Shakespeare’s plays and poems to new forensic and statistical analysis of early modern manuscripts, Romack said.
“They’ve been studying Shakespeare all semester, and to see these titan scholars get up there and present in front of an audience of hundreds of people is an incredible experience for them,” Romack said.
Green said being able to attend the meeting was “invaluable” to her study of Shakespeare.
“I learned to approach his texts in many more ways that I approached them before attending this conference,” Green said.
Romack said experiences like the Shakespeare event help prepare undergraduate students for their graduate studies.
“We’ve done as a department I think a really good job of professionalizing our students before they enter into graduate applications,” she said.