UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Annual Undergraduate Literature Conference Showcases Student Work

On April 21, students and professors from the University of Massachusetts Boston, Bridgewater State University, and Stonehill College gathered at Bridgewater State for the Eleventh Annual Undergraduate Literature Conference.

Over the course of the day, attendees presented papers and poetry centered around literary works they have studied throughout their courses. There were six panels, each of which focused on a different topic of analysis or type of work. Some included Lyric Forms and Poetic Practices; Wives, Shrews, Knights, and Kings: Rereading Identity from Chaucer to Shakespeare; and Race and Nation in 20th-Century Literature.

Students from each of the three participating schools presented on a variety of works, from those by Shakespeare to Chaucer, Austen to Chopin. There were also creative works, including creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Following each panel was also a brief time during which the audience could ask questions of the student presenters about the works they read and presented on.

Keynote speaker Professor Kim McLarin, from Emerson College, presented “Why Read? Why Write? Why Now?” before the conference broke for lunch. Throughout the day, there was also a small buffet of pastas, salad, coffee, and sweets available.

Professors Eve Sorum and Len Von Morze, the latter of whom is also the director of the Undergraduate English Program at UMass Boston, facilitated UMass Boston’s participation in the conference. Both Professor Sorum and Professor Von Morze were in attendance at the conference.

“This is just such a fantastic event each year because it allows students to see this community of critics engaged with the works,” said Sorum. “It’s an amazing showcase for UMass Boston students. Seeing that each year is both inspiring and fulfilling.”

Following a competitive submission process at UMass Boston prior to the conference, 12 UMass Boston students were chosen to present their work. These students were Megan Amory, Jaime Chernoch, Eileen Cullen, Jacqlyn Culwell, Jessica Decie, Gabrielle Farrah, Josiah Hillner, Sarrana Jeanty, Jamie Millen, Barooj Mushtaq, Hannah Piasecki, and Brianna Rapoza.

Megan Amory, a junior at UMass Boston, presented “The Queer-Coded Works of Jane Austen and the Plot Twist Where Everyone is Gay” during the panel titled Sexuality, Race, and Form on Either End of the 19th Century.

“I had never been a fan of Jane Austen, so when I walked into Libby’s [Professor Elizabeth Fay’s] class last fall devoted to just Austen, I knew I had to do something. So I made it all gay,” said Amory with a laugh.

Another student, Briana Crockett from Bridgewater State, delivered a spoken word poem titled “12:26 AM” about the struggles with race shame she faced in a past relationship. From analyses of works to found poems, short stories to free-form poetry, the conference displayed the talent of students from all three of the colleges.
Each reading showed the ability that literature provides for students to explore, analyze, and grapple with various topics both in the work and in life. Presenting students displayed the range of focus and creativity that literature studies allow.