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Students’ work showcased at conference

October 1, 2009

The third annual Undergraduate Academic Conference at UW-River Falls is scheduled for Oct. 2 and will host Scott Russell Sanders as keynote speaker for the event.

The conference is being held in the UC Ballroom and is sponsored by the Literary Society and the English department. The conference will be divided into hour-long sessions beginning at 9 a.m. where students will present critical academic papers in the discipline of English literature and also creative work of their own.
From 10 a.m.-noon, Sanders will present his keynote address in the Kinni Theater. After that, the students will resume presenting until 3:50 p.m.

The sessions run in sync with the usual Monday, Wednesday, Friday class schedule.

“We are hoping that the turn-out is as good as last year, or even better… last year, we had hundreds of students attend sessions, and we expect the same this year,” English Assistant Professor Michelle Parkinson said.

One of the student speakers is junior and active gardener Madeline Page. She will be presenting a piece, titled “Progressive Planning: Community Gardening in Prison.”

“I’m a gardener and I think eating seasonal, local foods is cost-effective, healthy and rehabilitating for some. I attended the conference last spring and I’m excited and nervous to present this year,” Page said.

Another student speaker is senior English major Kelly Bryant. She will be reading a paper on one of the adventures she had while studying abroad in Scotland.

“I decided to speak at the conference because I wanted to get more involved with my major, and also have the opportunity to read my work,” she said.

Past student and graduate Ronald Francis will be presenting a piece, titled “Getting Away with Murder: Cultural Criticism in the Works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.”

“I think it will be great experience to put on my résumé, and I’m looking forward to hearing what other students have written… I’m especially looking forward to listening to (and meeting) the keynote speaker, who I believe was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Literature,” Francis said.

According to Sanders’ Web site, he was born in Memphis, Tenn., in 1945. He studied physics and English at Brown University, graduating in 1967. He completed his Ph. D. in English at Cambridge University in 1971. He is recognized as a Distinguished Professor of English at Indiana University. He taught there until his retirement in 2009. Sanders has written over twenty books including “Staying Put,” “Writing from the Center,” “Hunting for Hope” and his latest, “Private History of Awe,” a piece nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Sanders has received the Lannan Literary Award, the Associated Writing Programs Award, the John Burroughs Essay Award, the Indiana Humanities Award and the Mark Twain Award.

“I agreed to speak at the Undergraduate Conference for Critical and Creative Engagement because I hope to encourage aspiring youth writers, because I wish to share my concerns about our need to take better care of our earth, and because I am interested to see efforts underway toward greening the UWRF campus,” Sanders said.

As keynote speaker, Sanders will be reading from his latest piece, “A Conservationist Manifesto,” which envisions a shift from a culture of consumption to a culture of caretaking.