Falling into Abstract Season

For most people, Fall means the temperature is dropping, the leaves are changing colors, and it is time to breakout the sweatshirts and boots. However, for English majors it is abstract season. This means students are spending hours writing, editing, and staring into computer screens in hopes that their work will be accepted to a conference. As if writing an acceptable piece was not hard enough, the dreaded abstract must be written and submitted. While some conferences allow both the abstract and the paper to be sent in, many only ask for the abstract. This is why it is so important to have an abstract that can stand alone. Do not worry the English Department has a Solution!

Dr. Lauren Shoemaker to the rescue!

On October 11th, Dr. Shoemaker presented an Abstract 101 workshop where she went over how to write abstracts and what the conference judges look for in an abstract. An experienced conference presenter herself, she was able to give those in attendance a well-rounded outlook into what conferences are all about. The bulk of her presentation dealt with personal examples of abstracts where she gave the student’s time to read and analyze. One of the most important things to remember is to “mirror/mimic the language used in the call for papers for your abstract.” Other things that must appear in the abstract are:

  • Context: make your paper relevant to the conference or panel (historical, theoretical, etc.).
  • Thesis: Specific argument about your text.
  • Analysis Expected: What you are going to look at/examine.
  • Stakes/Take-Away: What is it the benefit of your paper.

These five things that Dr. Shoemaker taught will help make your abstract stronger and more likely to be considered.

She also showed us how to find conferences that fit our interests and ability. There are hundreds of available conferences, it is important to choose ones that we will have a good chance of being accepted. We like to think we’re all that and a bag of chips, but don’t submit to a graduate or doctorate conference if you’re an undergrad. You must find your place that will make you shine, as well as challenge you.

Dr. Shoemaker’s presentation was a huge help in preparing for conferences this year. Now, submit, submit, submit!

An English Degree Matters

Alumni Speak Series Poster

I could feel the tension exhibiting from the new freshmen English majors filling the room. They are worried, contemplating and searching for answers as to why their degree is so valuable. Most of us have heard the well-known question, “what are you going to do with an English degree?” Although I am an Secondary English Education Major, I still face this wrath. The English department hosts an event where an Alumni of the English Department comes in and talks about what their degree has done for them.

As some may know, Autumn Moss came into to talk about how her English degree from SRU has helped her career in healthcare. Now you are probably wondering, how can an English degree be useful in healthcare? Autumn provided us the answer. She was a part of a new program with the Allegheny Health Network, where she created content about the program in forms of pamphlets and posters, along with making the proposal for making this an official program.

Something I have come to realize after coming to see Autumn speak is that I too can make my English degree work for me. She said, “don’t listen to someone who says you cannot get job in this degree, because you can.” The passion and drive filled the classroom; the look in some of the first-year students’ eyes, as well as mine, were filled with reassurance.

From this experience I learned it does not matter what English degree you are in, because any English degree is highly versatile. The experiences here at Slippery Rock University will matter; cherish your professors, get involved, and get your name out there, because in the end, as Autumn stated, “do not put yourself in a box, but put yourself in a room.”