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English Department Holds Undergraduate Literature Conference

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Caldwell, N.J., Nov. 21 – Students from 14 colleges and universities in the tristate area gathered on Caldwell’s campus for the English Department’s “Literary Losers and Anti-Heroes” conference Nov. 18.

Trish Verrone, Ph.D., professor of English at Caldwell, said the department wanted to give English majors the valuable experience of presenting a paper at a literature conference with undergraduates from different colleges and universities. “Presenting at a conference requires students to utilize sophisticated communication and analytical skills and gives them the opportunity to exchange literary perspectives with English majors from other institutions.”

The keynote speaker was Dr. Stephen Marino from St. Francis College in Brooklyn. Marino, editor of The Arthur Miller Journal, detailed how the work of the playwright Miller has affected the literary, dramatic, political, and cultural landscape for decades.

Many of the undergraduate students like Caldwell’s Cassandra Winnie were excited to have the opportunity to present at their first conference. A psychology and English major, she said it was enriching to listen to others who appreciate English as she does. “Dr. Verrone kind of pushed me to do this … I’m so happy I listen to her all time.”

Catherine Stansfield, another Caldwell English major, was delighted to share ideas and to analyze the anti-heroes in literature with students and faculty. “I was inspired by so many writers to see literature from a different perspective and enjoyed listening and participating in discussions.” The students were able to show their “pride for literature” and in closely analyzing texts to get the full experience that reading offers, she said.

Andrew Haas, a writing and English major at Columbia University, was also a presenter. “It was a really good first experience.”

Victoria Hofstad, an English major at Lehman College CUNY, was happy to have the chance to speak. “Undergraduates don’t typically get the opportunity to present … I was impressed with the caliber of the other students.”

Emma Volk, an English major at Columbia, found it was “great to interact with schools from all over the area and see the work of other students.”

Megan Ilievski, also a presenter, is majoring in English and communications and media studies with an art minor at Caldwell. She said the conference was a success and hoped it would become an annual event.

Earlier in the semester students were invited to submit proposals for papers on literary works written in English or available in English translation from any historical period or national culture.