Response to Conference Presentations

Although all of the presentations this past week were awesome, I’ve chosen to dedicate my blog post to Abby’s power point. As we’ve discussed before (I think…?), Abby and I are both English and Linguistics double majors, so I found her topic particularly relevant to my personal interests. And as I think we’ve also talked about (again, I can’t exactly remember…), we’ve both taken Anne Curzan’s History of English course, which makes a study of dictionaries and language change that much cooler!

First, I really enjoyed the opening slide of your power point. I like how you’ve grounded your presentation in a quote, and I also really like the play on words you have between woman/man. It was a cool and unique way to preface the gendered nature of your research from the very beginning. From there, I think that you have done a particularly good job of presenting your research in an accessible, and visually interesting way. There is a nice variety of images, graphs and charts that gave your presentation a good pacing. It was also cool to be able to see images of the dictionaries that you were using for your study. I always forget just how much the dictionary has changed over time, and really how many versions of the dictionary that there are, so the images you provided gave a nice context/historical legacy to your own research. And for me particularly, as a linguist it was interesting to see the dictionaries themselves. The data in a dictionary is never something I have paid any sort of interest to, but in the future it is something I am going to be more aware of while looking things up.

In terms of your graphs, I thought it was a smart choice to lead with a contextualization of why and how dictionaries can reflect social trends. Here, you seem to key in on not only gender, but also social class, education and personal family structure. Using your dictionary entries, you are able to make a number of interesting conjectures. The one I liked best was the idea that most of the women in school were unmarried, and therefore could be using the dictionary as a way to further education in an otherwise male dominated world. That was a thought process I’d never seen employed through studying a dictionary, and I found it to be a very insightful one. And in terms of these conclusions, I appreciated that you presented the data in a number of ways (again, the variety of your entire presentation was great). Being able to see the facts about female readers both graphically and in a table made the information easier to comprehend, and more impactful. Well done!

Outside of the powerpoint, I thought that you did a good job of giving the presentation itself. Notably, I really appreciated that you didn’t just read off of the slides. If anything, your slides really didn’t have that much text at all, which to me was a good thing. You provided a lot of other information otherwise, which just speaks to how comfortable you are with the topic you presented on. Combined with the strengths of your slides, your personal presentation of the research was really strong. I hope that the rest of your paper goes well! I am interested to hear how you tie in all of these great image with the text itself.

In terms of everyone’s presentations though, it was cool to seem how much work and development has happened over the past couple of weeks. I remember sitting in class together, all struggling to write basic abstracts, and now we all have so much interesting research done. I had already read John and Brie’s, but to see their final trajectory was great. I also really liked Tim and Ira’s, especially how personal the research of both was. I was excited to see how different all of our presentations were, it makes the sphere of book history seem so much more accessible. Best of luck to everyone as we finish up our papers!


One thought on “Response to Conference Presentations

  1. I definitely agree that the graph Abby made conveying the difference in dictionary readership was really interesting, and powerful. The same is true of the table, which was really nice. Your point about struggling through the last few weeks is spot-on! It’s been really neat watching everyone’s theses, research, and papers develop. Not only do I think we’ve developed as writers and researchers, but I think we also are all much better at critically reading each other’s work, and also our own. All best!

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