Responses to the Conference Presentations

The conferences this week were certainly very interesting. On a personal level, having to condense my paper into a 20 minute presentation was rather difficult but a fruitful experience. It was definitely a learning experience to have to organize my thoughts and alter them in a way that would make the audience more interested and engaged with my topic, and hopefully I did so successfully.

Being a bit general, it was great to see how everyone’s topic developed from day one of our research until this point. It was great to be able to see that development over the weeks and the almost final products during the conferences. It was also interesting to see how much each person’s topic differed from one another. While there were the broad similarities, each one was distinct on multiple levels. It would be way to difficult to respond to just one presentation, so I’ll just respond to all of them!

John’s presentation was interesting to me because I don’t know too much about Moby-Dick. I never knew how unsuccessful the work and Melville were and how much events (like his death) and reviewers influenced the classification of the work as the “Great American Novel”. It’s strange how something can be classified as such even though it had very little success in the beginning. This presentation was really enlightening and makes me curious about the success of other books, and how many other books and authors experienced the same development as Moby Dick.

I enjoyed Brie’s presentation a lot because it really connected to my own topic. While overall there were different perspectives broadly speaking, we both were focused on the effects a group of books/author/book had on women and society overall. I liked how she was able to use the content of the Three Guineas letters as a way to gain a sense of who was reading and responding to the work, and conclude that this work was able to influence the individuals who read it.

I never really considered how an author’s success and book length related, and Ira’s presentation really helped me realize that there is indeed a relationship. It was interesting to see the development of the data from a very long list of bestsellers, to a more specific set of data that reveals how an author’s success and the length of a book are related. I’ll definitely be thinking about that the next time I pick up a book.

Jeff’s topic was something I know nothing about, or even heard of, but was interesting nonetheless. It was nice to see how he was able to make a connection between Seeley’s The Expansion of England and the mentality of expansion (and even a connection to our reading in the beginning of the semester, phenomenology). I never really realized how much of an influence something like this could have on the reading process and it was nice to be able to see a specific example of this in Jeff’s presentation.

It was really cool how Tim was able to analyze his sister’s data in order to gain a greater understanding of her reading processes and the influence she was able to make on other readers that may, like her, not be “normal”, or a “typical” teenage reader. I said this before during our workshop in class, but the data used in the presentation and paper are a really good depiction of her reading habits and an interesting way of giving us an idea of how she grew as a critic.

I feel like there is so much more I can say about each presentation since they were all so different and enlightening. It was great to be able to participate in a conference like this and be able to share my own work as well as learn more about the research and findings of my other classmates.




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