John Huston once said, “you’re good, you’re real good” (“Top 25 Quotes”). This statement encapsulates how I feel about my MA peers after seeing their presentations at Textualities 2017. A week after the conference, I remain in awe of all of the participants. Textualities was certainly a challenge, but I am so happy to have been a part of it.
A couple weeks before the conference, I began to feel the pressure of having to solidify my thesis topic. After meeting with Dr. Laird to see if my topic would be appropriate for the Irish Writing and Film MA, I met with a Dr. Monahan to discuss my idea. It was still very broad and a bit too cumbersome for a MA thesis, but we had a lengthy and helpful discussion that directed me towards a more focused idea. Dr. Monahan’s most constructive advice for the conference was to try and force a thesis statement. By doing this, I would be able to have a test run during the conference to see if the thesis worked. He reminded me that the conference would really just be a venue to try out our ideas rather than having a set statement, which assuaged some of my fears. I decided to use star theory as a framework to analyze Huston’s fictional representations.
Pecha Kucha is not an easy presentation format. I know that we all felt very nervous the entire week before as we struggled the master the timing. Even the night before, I practiced with some of my peers and we all still felt uncomfortable with our timing. We also had a paper due, which added stress to the week, yet I think that seeing everyone rise to the challenge, make the deadlines, and master Pecha Kucha was what made Textualities feel like such a success.
My task for the conference was to be the technological assistant with Rebecca. I could not have asked for a better partner that day. Her organization ensured a smooth run during the conference, while her calm and composed manner helped me to feel less nervous when I arrived that morning. Rebecca emailed the class the week before asking for links, and we put everything into a Google Doc, which made the process of setting up before each panel very easy. For those who have not seen, the photos from the day are on Blackboard, under the Textualities 2017 discussion group.
Once I started my presentation and realized that I was not running over time, I felt a little more confident in my delivery. Still, the whole presentation is a bit of a blur due to my adrenaline and nerves. I was so relieved when I finished that I forgot to switch to the next presentation! To my own surprise, I enjoyed the Q&A because it presented the challenging opportunity to think critically and on the spot about things that I had not considered before.
I cannot adequately describe the feeling that I had when I went and checked my phone and saw such lovely and supportive tweets from my peers. I don’t want to speak for everyone, but I think that our nerves were partly due to the fact that we have so much respect for our fellow students and our lecturers. Receiving nice feedback from people that I respect and admire was overwhelming. I enjoyed the day so much that I’d like to participate in some more conferences in the future.
I can’t single out specific presentations because they all truly blew me away. Seeing my peers’ presentations and research at the conference left me stimulated, fascinated, and invigorated. I fail to properly articulate how moved I was by seeing a community of scholars who were encouraging and supportive of each other. The scholarship was so impressive, but the greatest thing that I took away from that day was the feeling of camaraderie among the MA students. I feel lucky to have such a supportive group to go through the MA journey with, and I am sure that we will continue to encourage each other during the summer.
On an exciting final note, Dr. Graham Allen suggested during the Q&A that I use Orson Welles as a point of comparison to Huston. This week, Netflix announced that they purchased his uncompleted film The Other Side of the Wind, starring none other than Huston as a famed film director, and they are going to finish the film and release it (“Netflix”). This could make an interesting addition to my introduction. After Textualities 2017, I’m energized and ready for the next step in my thesis preparation!
The works cited below include the sources and photos I used in my presentation.
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