As a member of Ball State University's Digital Literature Review (DLR), I wrote about witches—specifically in regards to the 2016 horror film, The Witch—for our journal’s 2017 theme of “Monsters” and presented my research at this year’s Butler University Undergraduate Research Conference (URC). This conference is a wonderful opportunity for undergraduates in any discipline to showcase the amazing things they’re doing while earning their degree. And, because of the Honors College, I was able to register and attend the conference for free.
The conference itself took place last Friday. My day started out bright and early. Tasked with leaving at 7 a.m. sharp, I rolled up to the official Ball State University van my group had rented at 7:15 due to my: a) inability to get out of bed in a timely manner any hour prior to 10 a.m.; and b) my need for coffee. After unashamedly embodying the “Walking into class 10 minutes after it started with the drink that made you late” meme, I apologized to my fellow group members for my tardiness, and we began our journey.
In an ideal turn of events, our morning’s travel conversation ranged from feminism, critiquing racism in advertising (looking at you, Pepsi), and more. If you’ve ever asked yourself “What happens when you put seven woke English students in a car for an hour?,” there’s your answer.
Upon arriving we claimed our free Butler URC t-shirts, complimentary breakfast, more coffee (because I can never be too caffeinated), and listened to the keynote speaker—who spoke on the importance of civil engagement as millennials—before the students’ sessions began.
In what was a DLR power-hour, my colleagues and I (with our faculty sponsor, English literature professor Dr. Joyce Huff, in the audience) presented on the journal itself, the literary theory that informed our theme of “Monsters,” and personal research that ranged from the young adult novel A Monster Calls, the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, and baby hatcheries (a concept too elaborate to explain here—hyperlinked is the researchers’ published article on this topic).
We then moved to the next session where I presented on The Witch in a panel that discussed women writers and women in literature. My co-presenters discussed facets of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper and also compared the cognitive dissonance present in Kathryn Stockett’s The Help to Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.
Our question-and-answer session was productive, helpful, kind, and essentially became a roundtable for methods to topple the patriarchy—aka, my favorite kind of conversation. Sophomore English student and friend, Leah Heim, described the panel as “One I will be thinking about for weeks. I want to write ten papers now.”
After presenting, we regrouped for a quick lunch (also free!) and debriefed after a morning and afternoon filled with scholarship and excitement. Once finished, we decided that it was time to head home and rest up from a long day of talking and traveling.
Even though everyone in my group were English majors and DLR students, English and the DLR weren’t the only Ball State representatives at the Butler URC. Our university held panels, posters, and competitive papers ranging in disciplines from chemistry, classical studies, communications and media studies, education, history, modern languages, psychology, religious studies and philosophy, and more.
Next year, I highly encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities at the Butler URC. Regardless of what you study, the world wants to hear about what you do! Butler hosts an open, welcoming, and low-stakes environment to get your foot in the door of academic presenting. So, what’s stopping you?