- be_ixf; php_sdk; php_sdk_1.4.18
- 94 ms
- iy_2023; im_10; id_02; ih_00; imh_41; i_epoch:1.69623251569E+12
- ixf-compiler; ixf-compiler_18.104.22.168
- py_2023; pm_09; pd_05; ph_02; pmh_27; p_epoch:1.69390604513E+12
- link-block; link-block_link-block; bodystr
- pn_tstr:Tue Sep 05 02:27:25 PST 2023; pn_epoch:1.69390604513E+12
- 0 ms
- be_ixf; php_sdk; php_sdk_1.4.18
By Jewel Blanchard, senior English major
Pictured above: SOU’s 2023 NUCL presenters. From left to right: Connor Babbitt, Emily Roach, and Blake Jordan. Also pictured is friend Sky Church
In March of 2023, three English students got the exciting opportunity to present a self-written paper at the Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature (NUCL) at the University of Portland. The NUCL was conceived in 2004 as a literature-based counterpart to science fairs, and takes in submissions from college students as well as honors and advanced placement high school students. The conference primarily focuses on critical/scholarly writing, but also holds a place for essay and poetry submissions, with top prizes going to a few special pieces. It is an incredible chance for students to share their work, start a conversation and hear feedback, and meet other peers and professors.
The three SOU English students who presented at the 2023 NUCL, Blake Jordan, Emily Roach, and Connor Babbitt, were encouraged by their English professors to submit their work. It was Creative Writing Major Emily Roach’s first year submitting to the NUCL, and she had “no idea” what the conference was before recently becoming an English minor and being recommended by Dr. Diana Maltz to submit her paper “‘Going Somewhere’: Radical Commodification in The Buddha of Suburbia.” Emily’s paper “details the way characters in Hanif Kureishi’s novel take movements created to incite radical change… and co-opt, gentrify, and ultimately commodify them for their own gains.”
“[The NUCL] definitely did not disappoint, and I’m very grateful for Diana and the rest of the English department’s support in getting me there!”
– Emily Roach
Similarly, it was Connor Babbitt’s first year at the NUCL, and he submitted not only a revised ENG 301 paper as per his professor’s recommendation, but a small anthology of his own poetry. To Connor’s “pleasant surprise,” both of their writing pieces were accepted. Connor’s paper was titled “Bed, No Wed, Just Dead: A Romantic Reading Of Maggie,” which focused on the text Maggie: A Girl Of The Streets by Steven Crane. Through their paper, Connor argues that “the protagonist Maggie represented Romanticism in the story, and by demoralizing and killing her, Crane was killing the genre of Romanticism.” The poetry anthology that Connor presented is titled “reformations at twenty,” detailing their “experience as a queer individual and the rifts that caused in [their] relationship with [their] mother as well as finding peace without her.”
“I’m hoping to produce some more work for next year, and hopefully go every year.”
– Connor Babbitt
Meanwhile, according to English Major Blake Jordan, “I was encouraged by… Dr. Alma Rosa Alvarez to submit to the last NUCL and I submitted again this year because I had such a wonderful time…” (You can read about Blake’s first NUCL presentation experience here!) This year, the paper that Blake presented was titled “Reaching Out for a Shock: Afro-Pessimism and the Disruption of Community in Richard Wright’s Native Son.” The main argument of his paper is that “the reality Native Son portrays… represents a mental model of the world that the protagonist… has constructed, a mental model that breeds contempt and nihilism and interrupts the construction of communities amongst the oppressed.” He felt like his writing, as represented by this paper, has improved since last year, and he was proud to share that with the conference. About the trip, Blake says that it was just as excellent this year as last year, and that he enjoyed the “stimulating conversations on literature.”
“I felt proud to present work that represented growth in my academic writing.”
– Blake Jordan
The students also enjoyed the city of Portland on their trip, with Emily mentioning the common English Major experience of “drooling” over the books in Powell’s, especially the small press section. (Connor affectionately called this trip “the Portland Pilgrimage to Powell’s.”) Emily says that her conference experience resulted in new friendships with other SOU presenters, which “didn’t end there.” As far as her presentation experience, Emily says that she was in “good company” at the NUCL despite the unusual topic of her paper, because she presented as part of a panel on music in literature. She enjoyed her conference experience so much largely because she sees “the Creative Writing and English majors [as having] a really symbiotic relationship, and this is an event where they really come together.” To be able to combine and share the culmination of her skills in both fields “gave [Emily] a sense of community in writing.” Connor mentions the memorable experience of a panel Q&A session after a paper presentation turning into a riveting philosophical discussion. He says that “the whole conference was extremely cool and a gathering of people who really wanted to be there and came prepared to have a blast!”
Pictured Above: The 2023 NUCL presenters during their road trip! From left to right, Blake Jordan, friend Sky Church, Connor Babbitt, and Emily Roach.
“Academic writing is all a part of a large conversation amongst a community of thinkers. NUCL is an excellent opportunity to present ideas to your peers and have your own thinking challenged in real time.”
– Blake Jordan
Since these presenters describe the practice of writing as “isolating” or “solitary,” they recommend the NUCL experience to other students to bring a more discussion-based and social component to their practice. On top of this, a NUCL experience as an audience member, and not just a presenter, can be valuable in how it gives new insights on literature that you might “never…have thought of” yourself. This type of connected scholarship can be vital to a student’s growth and understanding of scholarship. Emily connects the significance of this to the essay that she presented: “Unlike the characters in my essay who used radical movements for self gain, events like the NUCL are creating truly radical spaces where we’re free to question and posit and learn. And that is something you can’t commodify.”
“Presenting at NUCL will probably be the highlight of my freshman year, and I hope anyone else who wants to go can go.”
– Connor Babbitt
We are looking for a new student blogger to begin in the fall! If you or anyone you know is interested, please reach out to Margaret Perrow at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Interested in being featured on the English Program blog? Or know someone who is interested? Contact English Program blogger Jewel Blanchard at email@example.com .