Loyola University Chicago

Department of English

Conference Presentations

Dept of English PhD student presenting

While composing graduate papers for a seminar, it is a good idea to write on subjects that spark your curiosity, are relevant to your ongoing research interests, and that are suitable for conference presentation as a shorter version (usually 6-8 pages) of your seminar paper (usually 12-25 pages). Don't waste the valuable time you spent researching and writing that paper; use the finished product for more than just receiving a grade! Throughout this process, consult the Writing Center's conference guide for Graduate-Level Professional Writing.

Method 1 - Present the paper at a local, national, or international conference: After submitting your final paper for a seminar class and receiving feedback from your professor, modify your paper and then search for a suitable conference to present at in order to receive additional feedback from experts in the field before revising the longer version again for publication. 

Find a CFP: The first challenge at this stage is to find an upcoming conference whose theme or general scope would agree well with your paper (i.e. a paper on literature about the medieval mystic and revolutionary John Ball would be suitable at Kalamazoo (medieval), MLA (general literary), as well as a historical, theological, or political conference). It's often a good idea to ask your professor for conference advice, as he or she has presumably presented their own research and formed a network of colleagues in the field. Also research conferences on your own through these avenues; the UPenn listserv constantly posts CFPs from the arts and humanities in all fields; the VICTORIA listserv regularly posts CFPs (calls for papers) in the field of Victorian study, and Twitter is rapidly becoming one of the best avenues for hearing about upcoming conference opportunities, followed by Facebook. Besides following major conferences to receive updates and getting added to listservs, do some research on the Internet to find the conference that is right for you. 

Write and submit an abstract: Usually a CFP will contain the following useful information: theme, word limit (usually 250-350 words), deadline, and the email and contact person for receipt of the abstracts. The abstract basically performs the function of a topic paragraph, summing up in brief the question, methodology, proof, thesis, and conclusion of your paper (the order of these parts may vary). Each sentence and every word counts in this abstract, so don't use quotes unless absolutely necessary. Get to the point and be extremely clear about the use of your research. How does your research refute, add to, or advance previous research or ways of thinking? Make sure to stay at or under the word count and email the finished product to the designated recipient by the deadline. Sometimes there is a request for a one-page CV, so make sure you've read the CFP thoroughly. When emailing your abstract (sometimes with a CV), briefly greet the recipient, tell them the title of your paper and what you are applying for, and provide an email signature with your contact details, i.e. "Dear Ms. Smith, Attached please find my abstract entitled "TITLE," for the "CONFERENCE NAME." Thanks for your consideration. Yours, Dimas Hospod." This helps the recipient locate your submission among hundreds of other emails and submissions and encourages them to respond and confirm receipt of your email.

Apply for funding: A CFP also contains information about a conference's name and location; while some conferences stay in one location permanently or for several years, many rotate within a region or the entirety of the US. Meant either for graduate students alone, or for all scholars, many local conferences take place in the Chicago area, both at LUC and at surrounding universities and institutions. Attending one of these as a speaker can be a great way to get that CV line and save money at the same time. If you want to attend a conference farther away, it is a good idea to apply to the Graduate School for money. Each year, LUC graduate students are eligible for the sum of $400.00 from the Graduate School on a first-come-first-serve basis. Once you have received an acceptance email, download it as a pdf, and apply through GSPS for an internal funding award when applications open up (keep an eye out for Michelle Cerullo's emails). Save all of your receipts from the conference (transportation receipts such as airplane receipts, boarding passes, baggage claim tickets, hotel reservation or Airbnb receipts, food receipts, conference registration costs, etc.). You will need to bring these along with this completed electronic reimbursement form in an envelope to the 4th floor of Grenada Center on the LSC to submit to Ms. Cerullo for reimbursement ($400.00) following your conference. If your costs exceed 400.00, save other receipts for submission to EGSA in the spring semester (look for the email); you may possibly recover more of your costs. Sometimes safely and respectfully sharing transportation or accommodations with other graduate students attending the conference can be a useful way to reduce the expense of attending a national or international conference. Also, explore other opportunities for funding such as conference bursary awards, conference travel awards, and graduate essay competitions often advertised by conferences on their website.

Present your paper: Your acceptance email will generally provide the following details: how long you have to present (usually 15-20 mins on a panel of 3-4 speakers) and give information involving when the finished conference schedule of presentations will appear on the conference website or be emailed to you. Often, a few weeks out from the conference, your designated panel moderator will contact you and request a brief 2-4 sentence bio with which to introduce you at the event; sometimes you are also requested to email your PowerPoint presentation if you have one. Besides ensuring that your paper is only 6-10 pages, depending on the time limit and rehearsing and timing your presentation, its also advisable to bring a USB drive containing your paper and your PowerPoint; technology is notoriously unreliable, especially at humanities conferences! Bringing a clicker and a Macbook adapter cord if relevant can facilitate proceedings. Make sure you are speaking into the microphone loud enough to be heard by your audience (usually numbering anywhere from 4-100 people depending on the conference). Be respectful to your panelists and panel moderator during the entire session by staying within the 15-20 minute presentation limit and trying not to monopolize the Q&A session, as this indicates you are a thoughtful colleague that others will want to network with instead of compete against in the field. After successfully giving your paper, log into GSPS and make note of the fact under "Presentations." 

Method 2: Present the Paper at an LUC Event for Practice: Once you've either revised your seminar paper in light of your professor's comments, OR finished presenting the shorter version at a conference, consider presenting a 6-8 page paper at the EGSA Symposium or the GSAC Symposium during the spring semester. Especially if you are nervous about public speaking, getting your feet wet with a short presentation about a paper you thoroughly researched and revised that is delivered to a sympathetic audience of people you know is a great way to start off your career as a speaker. 

Method 3: Apply for the Clayes Award: Every year you will receive an email from the Department of English secretary about the deadline for applying for the Stanley A. Clayes Award. Established in memory of a beloved professor in the department, this award and a cash prize is given for the best graduate paper written for an LUC course in the previous schoolyear. If you receive first or second place you will present an 8-10 page version of your paper at the Clayes Award reception, at which you will receive a check.