Practical Criticism Midwest is the annual conference held by and for English department graduate students.  In the following post, PCM planning committee member Elisabeth Buck encourages all department graduate students to participate and announces the call for papers as well as a workshop to help graduate students write proposals to conference presentations.

The opportunity to participate in and attend academic conferences is one of the most exciting aspects of graduate student life. Some of the perks of attendance include the prospect of hobnobbing with prominent scholars and totally nerding out with fellow academics in your field. If you’re lucky, you might even get to explore a cool city in the process. That said, presenting at a conference can also be quite intimidating: say, for instance, you’re put on a panel with a fully tenured professor and a faculty emeritus from Harvard. Or, you get a question from an overly “enthusiastic” audience member who decides to bring up an article that you’ve never heard of before, but that supposedly completely contradicts your entire argument. I might (ahem) be speaking from personal experience here in referencing these two anecdotes, but— awkward / daunting circumstances aside—I can honestly say that my participation in conferences thus far has been an invaluable component of my scholarly and professional development.

This is why I would like to encourage you to participate in the Practical Criticism Midwest Conference that will be held in February 2013. The theme of this year’s conference is “On the Shoulders of Giants”: as emerging scholars, we are expected to possess an in-depth understanding of the works that shape our fields, but we also must make meaningful and innovative contributions to these extant discourses. The PCM committee would therefore like to encourage you to submit critical or creative works that simultaneously engage with and expand upon the efforts of your academic predecessors. Since PCM is a conference specifically for Ball State graduate students in English or other related fields, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to gain familiarity with the conference submission and presentation process. It will also be an occasion to professionalize, to try out works-in-progress, and to meet and exchange ideas with colleagues in a friendly and supportive environment.

To that aim, the PCM committee is organizing an abstract workshop that will take place from 2-3 PM on Friday November 16 in RB 361. Several faculty members have kindly volunteered to present on helpful hints for writing an abstract from within the disciplines of literature, creative writing, rhetoric and composition, and linguistics. We will then open the discussion up to address the questions you have about successfully writing an abstract. Abstract submissions for PCM will be due on November 27, 2012, and full papers must be received by January 14, 2013.

Once again, I want to encourage you to participate in the November 16th workshop and submit an abstract for consideration.  I know that we’re starting to get to the point in the semester when seminar papers are in development, and writing an abstract can be a great way to help you solidify your argument—there’s no excuse not to participate! You can view conference and submission information at  Regardless of your decision to submit, however, I hope to see all of you there in February, cheering on and supporting your fellow graduate students!