This is the finalised schedule for UCC Textualities Conference 2014 which convened in the Western Gateway Building G18 on Friday 28th March. The conference featured speakers presenting on topics inspired by their respective MA modules: American Literature and Film, Irish Writing and Film, Modernities: Romanticism, Modernism, Postmodernism and Texts and Contexts: Medieval to Renaissance Literature.
I think we effectively used social media to advertise the conference: Rebecca Hunter and Eimear Mullane created the Textualities blog and Facebook pages, Cathal O’ Gara designed the beautiful Textualities poster and schedule, a Textualities Twitter account was set up by Dara de Staic and as an administrator of the Texts and Contexts: Medieval to Renaissance Literature Facebook page I made sure to highlight the conference as much as possible. In retrospect, I feel that holding the conference in the Western Gateway Building discouraged people from attending. In my opinion hosting the conference closer to campus in the future would make the conference more accessible and possibly yield a greater turn out.
On the day itself I arrived absurdly early so I could mentally prepare myself for viewing the room from a lecturer’s perspective. Conscious of the conference’s schedule I created a folder, “Textualities 2014”, to save all the presentations and eliminate the need for using memory keys. In the interests of efficiency, I took the precaution of checking the transition times for each presentation and I saved each presentation under the speaker’s name so that they could be found quickly.
Reviewing my own presentation my nerves did affect my timing and I was a few seconds ahead of some slides. That said, my delivery was the slowest that I have ever spoken under duress, so in terms of my diction I am confident that I was heard and understood throughout the presentation.
Returning to my slides I am glad that I opted for visuals, essentially because they were more attractive and engaging than text! I surprised myself in managing to select images that were ideal for my topic. The walled garden I selected for my background silently perpetuated the focus of my topic throughout the presentation.
Certain images like the ones included below beautifully conveyed my points. The female stone statue was appropriate for the points I wanted to illustrate from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Merchant’s Tale. I was intrigued by two references that explicitly associated May’s body with stone, the material that the walled garden was made of: “The bride was broght abedde, as stille as stoon” and she “hath a herte as hard as any stoon” (1818, 1990). This image of stone statue partially covered by moss and grass was ideal because it combined garden imagery with a visual of a stone woman.
Similarly this gif was a lucky find because it was perfect for portraying the sense of oppression that is vocalised by Miss Maria Bertram in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park “But unluckily that iron-gate…gives me a feeling of restraint and hardship. I cannot get out, as the starling said” (505). What delighted me with this gif was its ability to show both the birds and the woman encaged, thereby effectively reinforcing the quote that I had selected. The most rewarding aspect in preparing my slides was when I succeeded in getting to gif to play on my Powerpoint presentation!
I am pleased with my performance and participation at Textualities 2014 because I was actively involved throughout the entire day. I chaired Panel Two, presented in Panel Three, I contributed to the live blog for Panel Four and was tweeting to #textualities14 incessantly for the other Panels. Suffice it to say – the day flew!
My experience in attending other conferences benefited me enormously and as chair for Panel Two, I made sure that as well as introducing each speaker, I also engaged with or complimented their presentation at the end before introducing the next presenter.
Trisha O'Connor introducing Maria Power #textualities14 pic.twitter.com/OTcXkx9O3i
— UCC Textualities 14 (@UCCtext2014) March 28, 2014
Textualities also highlighted two specific areas that I would like to improve on in the future: live blogging and answering questions. In comparison to the other live bloggers I recognise that I could have contributed more in-depth analyses of each presentation. I will have to concentrate on developing my multi-tasking skills! In relation to the questions segment of the day my nerves played a principal part in preventing me from articulating clear and satisfactory answers to my questions after my presentation. Textualities helped me to acknowledge this and I will endeavour to take the time to mentally prepare myself before answering questions in the future. On a more positive note, judging by the lovely tweet below, my eager tweeting fortunately redeemed me (I hope!):
Really sorry to have missed #textualities14 Congrats all esp MAcstudents @IrishEcocritic @omurphy16 and chief tweeter @trishaoconnor88
— Claire Connolly (@claireconnollys) March 28, 2014
In conclusion the Textualities conference was a daunting experience, but one that I am glad to have been part of. It was a fantastic day filled with incredibly interesting and diverse presentations spanning Disney movies, links between poetry and pickpocketing to Video Games as art! For some of us Textualities 2014 will be the first and last opportunity to present at a conference, for others it simply marks the beginning of many more!
I would like to finish this review with a selection of tweets responding to my own presentation on the day and a lovely class photo taken (willingly!) at the close of the day.
@UCCtext2014 loved Trisha O Connor and Ann King's presentations..very interesting and entertaining..go Trisha and Ann! #textualities14
— Kate Kelly (@katek333) March 28, 2014
@trishaoconnor88 her other true love outside of old english #janeaustin #persuasion #textualities14 pic.twitter.com/LOZFfYELZf
— Rebecca Hunter (@rebeccachunter) March 28, 2014
@rebeccachunter @trishaoconnor88 WEAK for Austen. Well done indeed Trisha. 😀
— Maria Power (@mariapower) March 28, 2014
Austen, Jane. Persuasion. New York: Barnes & Nobles Inc., 2012. Print.
Austen, Jane. The Complete Novels of Jane Austen: Seven Great English Classics. London: Penguin Books, 1996. Print.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Ed. and introd. Jill Mann. London: Penguin Books, 2005. Print.
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