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Concord Students Place at Undergraduate Literature Symposium

By James Trent
On April 11, 2018

Three Concord English students presented at Undergraduate Literature Symposium on March 3, and now those students are looking forward to Concord’s Undergraduate Research Day. 

Jeremy Wood, Abby Rector, and Rachel Pitcher all presented at the Undergraduate Literature Symposium at Fairmont University last March. Nineteen students presented their research, representing a total of six West Virginian universities and colleges and one Pennsylvanian university. Of those nineteen presentations, Abby Rector took first place in the symposium for her presentation titled “Ebony and Ivory Live Together in Perfect Harmony.” The presentation was an analysis of William Blake’s poem “The Little Black Boy,” and focused on the spiritual and racial contrasts between the little black and white boys in the poem. Jeremy Wood tied for second place with his presentation “Blake as Feminist? Placing Ahania in Its Proper Context.” His presentation analyzed “The Book of Ahania,” also by William Blake, and discussed why the text was important and the feminist themes within it, despite being largely ignored by Blake critics. 
All three students were encouraged to present by their professors, who helped them practice and modify their presentations in the days leading to the symposium. Dr. Charles Brichford, Dr. Michelle Gompf, Dr. Tony Patricia, Dr. Tina Powell, Dr. Gabriel Rieger, and Dr. Elizabeth Roth all helped the students practice presenting their literature research and provided feedback to help the students more effectively talk about their topics. 
Abby Rector saw presenting at an English symposium as a great chance to break from her comfort zone. “I decided to present at the symposium because I wanted the opportunity to challenge myself as a writer and as a student of English,” Abby said. “I was extremely nervous, but I tried to take the advice that we should all take a chance on the things that scare us.” 
Jeremy Wood had a similar view of the experience. When asked if he enjoyed presenting, Jeremy said, “Absolutely! Communication skills are so often overlooked, but they are just as important as writing skills. The only way to grow is to challenge yourself to do things you may not be comfortable with, such as public speaking.” 
For Rachel Pitcher, actually presenting her research was the fun part. “The preparation for the presentation was not easy,” she said, “but the presentation itself was cool and fun. It was nice to be in a room where people were truly invested or interested in what I had studied… It is refreshing to meet with other people who share the same passion that you do.” 
Now, all three students will be presenting on Concord’s Undergraduate Research Day on April 12. Abby Rector is excited to share her research with the rest of Concord, and hopes to reflect well on the English department. She said, “I hope someone will see me and the other English presenters and realize the value of what we do and maybe consider joining us. I also hope to make my professors proud and show them my gratitude for their dedication to my education.” 
Rachel Pitcher is also excited about presenting again, though she is concerned with the change in atmosphere. “I am nervous because I think the audience will be different than the one I have presented [to] at the symposium. However, I have made some different arrangements… I am hoping for the best and thankful for the opportunity.” 
Jeremy Wood will not be presenting the same research from the symposium but will instead present his research done with the McNair scholars titled “Sterne’s Poststructuralist Hobby-Horse: The Flaws of Narrative in Tristram Shandy.” It analyzes the postmodern novel “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman” by Laurence Sterne, and the different ways the novel tries to make a coherent plot of Tristram Shandy’s life.
Undergraduate Research Day will be held in the ballroom of the Student Center on April 12, with students presenting from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Anyone is free to attend and listen to the various undergraduate presentations throughout the day.   


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