Category Archives: Conference

“Words Matter” Graduate Conference Call for Proposals!

Words Matter: Politics, Rhetoric, and Social Justice
Indiana University Bloomington
March 24-25, 2017

Submission Deadline: December 16, 2016 


Indiana University Bloomington is issuing a Call for Proposals for scholarly and creative submissions for the 15th Annual Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference entitled “Words Matter: Politics, Rhetoric, and Social Justice.”

Hosted by the English Department, this conference aims to interrogate politics, rhetoric, and social justice in moments of national and international upheaval. They aim to address these terms individually, but also their entanglements across historical moments and geographical locations.


What are the modern and pre-modern histories of these terms? How do literary and visual texts engage questions of politics, rhetoric, and social justice? What are the physical and material manifestations of these concepts? How do genre, discipline, and methodology impact the representation and study of these topics? What roles do both written and spoken words have in politics? Who/what has a voice and who/what is silenced socially and politically? How is rhetoric informed by politics, and what are the implications of their entanglements? What do we mean by “social justice” and how has this term been shaped historically? How do digital and virtual cultures intersect with social justice, and how have those cultures changed our perceptions of political movement and rhetorical engagement?

They invite submissions from all disciplines addressing, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Black Lives Matter, critical race studies, (anti-)colonial and postcolonial literature;
  • materialisms, phenomenology, object oriented ontology;
  • testimony, witnessing, civic duty;
  • anatomy, bodies of texts (corpora), the blazoned body;
  • language(s), translations, textuality, signification, vernacular/discourse studies;
  • advertising, memes, slander, mudslinging, rumors, gossip, virality, trolling, verbal abuse;
  • articulations of remembrance, monuments, postmemory han, therapy writing, memoirs, trauma study;
  • tattoos, body art, graffiti, banners;
  • protest literature, pamphlets, broadsides, community activism, grassroots politics;
  • reproductive rights, gender and sexuality studies;
  • legality, legislation, legal personhood, “the letter of the law,” sovereignty;
  • writing as activism, digital activism, Twitter, journalism, letter-writing campaigns, epistolary cultures;
  • communication studies, composition studies, pedagogy;
  • lyrics, music/sound studies, poetry;
  • global citizens, peace studies, area studies, nationhood;
  • vocality, muteness, silence, censorship, animal advocacy, post-humanism;
  • storytelling, myths, typology, “a people’s history;”
  • close/distant readings, scales of reading, big data, text mining;
  • structuralism, poetics, aesthetics, formalism, figurative language;
  • sacred words, religion, naming

They invite proposals for individual scholarly papers, creative works, and panels organized by topic. Please submit (both as an attachment and in the body of the email) an abstract of no more than 250 words along with the following personal details: name, institutional affiliation, degree level, email, and phone number.

Email submissions to


This conference is generously supported by the IU Bloomington Department of English, Department of Anthropology, Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, and Cultural Studies Program.

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Conference Etiquette- Is There Such a Thing as an Inappropriate Question During Q&A?

The Background

I recently attended a conference in Seattle on graduate education, and it was a great experience full of panels and ideas that I’m excited to try and replicate here at Fordham. But while I was in one of the sessions, an interesting situation arose—an audience member asked a question about sexual assault that clearly made the panel uncomfortable. So my question is: are their questions that simply should not be asked in a public Q&A?

It’s complicated. I think that there are productive conversations and argumentative ones. Anyone who has ever sat in on an academic conversation (Q&A, open forum, etc.) knows the difference between a comment meant to generate discussion and one made to disrupt it. There are panels where easy discussion and questions are the norm and ones where hard questions come up that may cause disagreement or even some outrage. In general, I think the beauty of the conference panel is that it does provide a place for people to create thoughtful segues and connect research but in general they’re more informative than anything.

Here is what we, the authorities, think. You, the audience of lesser knowledge, now respond to my ideas.

There are exceptions of course but let’s be honest—that’s fairly typical of the experience, especially when attending as a graduate student. Odds are you’ll be one of the least experienced voices in the room, so when is it time to speak up if you have something atypical to add?

The Situation

Let me set this particular scene. It was a panel on international travel, more specifically, the educational and professional benefits associated with graduate student travel. Considering the topic, I’ll also share the gender make-up of the presenters—two women and a man, all high level administrators. It was the very end of the session, the last question in fact, when the topic arose. Very respectfully, a man and asked if advocates for international travel were taking into consideration the numbers and reality of studies, like this 2013 preliminary, on overseas study-abroad sexual assault. “How are we preparing students to deal with this?” he asked. And should that reality affect an administrative push for international travel?

It was a topical and meaningful question that left the panel in obvious mental anxiety. I could see both panel and audience physically clench up. Sexual assault cases, and their handling, on domestic campuses are touchy subjects in higher education and it seemed this academic (and I would ethical) question did not limit the discomfort. It’s a reality and a problem, the panel admitted, but then quickly added that the benefits outweighed the risk and moved on, even going so far as to ask another question to end the panel on another note.

The Fallout

Who was in the right? The person who asked the question? The panelists who seemed to ignore it, despite its importance? I think in this case I can see both sides.

It was a rough question, one that I think would have derailed panelists with less experience and considering the time limitation (less than 5 minutes till lunch), I personally wouldn’t have asked it in that moment. But I don’t think it was inappropriate. It was on topic and timely, as proved by the recent Chronicle article dealing with this very issue.

Should audience members take panelists potential discomfort into account before asking a question? I don’t think so. Certainly, when you defend your dissertation your committee members are not going to go easy on you, nor are classmates in discussion. Dealing with difficult questions is part of being an academic, no matter the forum.

I think the panel’s importance and my overall take-away was lessened by the panelists brushing away the discussion of sexual assault. It seemed disingenuous and dangerous to pretend that our current, unorganized preventative education is going to make a difference with this issue. There needs to be a culture change. And maybe that panel was not the place to discuss that change, but the problem should have been better acknowledged—more importantly they should not have ignored the topics presence simply because it made them uncomfortable.

The Last Word

Overall, I think that the conference Q&A is the place to ask hard questions. As long as it somewhat relates to the session topic and is not outright insulting, I say go for it. In the end, it’s rarely the question asker who feels pressure from a poor question. A good panelist will know when and how to brush it aside (whether they should or not). But you may want to check the program so you’re not too rough on a new colleague.

As a graduate student I’d be careful who you may put on the spot—do you want to collaborate with them? Will you be interviewing at their school in the future? Most people appreciate questions that make them think or question their results, but some might be annoyed at what they feel is a disruption of a smooth panel.

  • Dewis Shallcross, Director of Student Development, GSAS ‘14

Fordham works hard to create a respectful environment fee from sexual harassment. Remember if you’re a graduate student teacher you’re a mandatory reporter!

Fordham policies, resources, and reporting information can be found here


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How to Mingle (with a Side of Networking)

Last night I had the good fortune to attend a cocktail party (and gosh do I feel a weird mix of old and elegant saying that phrase with a straight face) to celebrate a dear friend’s move. This party, which was held at a small non-profit museum, was the field-typical mix of young and old, rich and not-so-rich, volunteers and board members. The clear division between board members and regular (non-ED) employees is blurred with small organization like this one, creating an opportunity for the run of the mill intern (or past intern like me) to get some face time with people who “know people.”

This event made my anxiety-ridden mind look forward to a conference I’ll be attending next month, and the nightly “soirees” that are sure to ensue. This, more than anything, was what used to (and occasionally still does) give me anxiety, so I thought I’d write out some thoughts on how to network casually at reception events, in case like me, anyone tends to linger too long near the queso.

First things first—leave the comfort of the cheese. I know it’s hard, especially as a graduate student being lured by the siren call of free food, but hanging out by the food table screams socially-awkward. Conversations can’t really happen since you can’t block the table with groups and trying to eat a cracker and talk to that professor you’re dying to work with is a disaster waiting to happen. Take a little food (it should fill a little plate but don’t go crazy) and then step out into the middle of the room or grab a small table.

So now you’re standing alone, far from your best friend, gouda, and this was a terrible idea!!

But don’t panic! You can do this! Your best bet if you’re new to this group is to find someone who is also standing alone and just go up and say hello. Keep it short and if you’re comfortable, make a joke about hating to stand alone. Odds are, unless they’ve got a mouth full of food, they’ll be happy to talk to someone. (Hint- Don’t approach someone on a cell phone or if they’ve clearly just stepped away to have a drink or a bite to eat—you can tell your fellow loner by the desperate way they’ll be scanning the room for a familiar face.)

But maybe you’re beyond the basics. You’ve been to this event before, have said your mandatory hello’s and are looking to do a little mingling with people outside your main social circle. You’ve got your business cards (carefully stored in a pocket or easy to reach purse location) and you’re looking to meet some new people, hopefully ones with some sort of super job-finding power. But how to find them?

Important people tend to stay in one place, with people who are interested in talking to them, coming to them. You can’t rely on someone to come up to you. Ask a friend to introduce you, or if you don’t have any mutual connections, wait for an opening and introduce yourself. But don’t linger around—like the cheese, this person is going to be a sought out resource, and you won’t make friends by forcing a prolonged conversation. That’s not to say longer conversations shouldn’t or won’t happen, just that you need to read the room.

And move around the room.  Hanging out with the same people the whole night can be a waste of an opportunity. Last night the most successful young woman (who was NOT me), moved from group to group, sometimes introduced by her old boss, sometimes not. She worked that room like a pro, and had I been a better mingler, I would have gotten her card and had her write this post!

And finally, leave the nest. Go talk to people outside your own age group. Do not get stuck at the kids table. It can be intimidating as a young professional to go talk to your older peers or bosses but it’s worth the risk to start the conversation. You can contribute to the group no matter its makeup and it’s important to show that socially as well as in work scenarios.

But the best tip I can offer is to just relax. No one is judging you if you’re standing alone and it’s not the end of the world if you are— just remain calm and worst comes to worst, eat some cheese and call it a night.

And for love of all the books in the library, when you eventually host an event don’t say that dress is “smart casual.” NO ONE knows what that means.

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GSA Conference “Change and Its Challenges” Follow Up

On Saturday, February 28th the Graduate Student Association held a conference entitled “Change and its Challenges.” The event brought a diverse group of scholars from within the Fordham graduate community as well as the tri-state area together to our Lincoln Center campus to consider how different disciplines respond to the broad topic of change.

From changes in technology to changes in scholarly practices, this theme allowed for truly interdisciplinary conversations. Professor Ken Jackson (Columbia University) delivered a keynote address about urban development and how New York City itself has undergone significant changes in the last half century.

Attendees were also treated to a special musical performance that conceptually considered our conference’s theme in the world of music, led by Megan Chartrand (M.M. Yale University) and Justine Jalea (Columbia University), entitled “Voices of Defiance: Music, Change, and the Singing Revolution.” After a day full of exciting presentations, the conference concluded with a reception in the twelfth floor lounge.

Thank you to all participants and volunteers for making it a day to remember!

Peter Murray

GSA, Vice President

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Women in STEM Fields

As anyone with their pulse on higher education and/or trending twitter topics knows, female leadership and opportunities for women are being discussed, created, and critiqued around the US and the world. This February, Columbia and NYU invited scholars to New York to join the dialogue; they hosted the Womensphere Summit and Awards on Innovation, Invention, and Exploration.

This meeting was produced and moderated by Womensphere (and creator Analisa Balares), whose goal is to increase women’s presence in leadership roles across the board, through mentoring initiatives and community building. GSAS, our professional development initiative GSAS futures, and Fordham Biological Sciences department sponsored three female students to go attend this cutting-edge event.

Below, students Beth Ansaldi, Chelsea Butcher, and Marly Katz describe the event and the important dialogues that came out of it.


Women and men in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) from across the globe convened on February 25th and 26th, 2015 to inspire and initiate the advancement of women in STEM disciplines. Day one of the summit incorporated inspiring and insightful talks by distinguished speakers from a broad range of institutions representing academia, entrepreneurship and industry. Several themes from the speakers’ most potent ideas emerged. Key advice delivered at the summit to emerging women leaders in STEM include:

  1. Adaptation: Constantly change yourself. Ironically, what gets you to one point in your career may not be what enables you to push past that point. How you build a life and a career is a continuous and creative project requiring many iterations.
  2. Figure out your niche. Figure out what differentiates you from your peers.
  3. Outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens.
  4. The ability to learn is the only skill you really need to succeed.
  5. Be self-aware. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
  6. Cut your losses and be able to let go. Learn from your mistakes, and failed projects and move forward.
  7. Surround yourself by strengthening alliances. Find complements, not replicates to your own strengths. Innovation is the product of collaboration between people with diverse backgrounds.
  8. Authenticity. Represent yourself honestly, aligning your words and actions with your self.

Day two, a smaller and more intimate event, focused on promoting the advancement of female entrepreneurs from STEM fields.  Many attendees had projects and inventions in mind, while others, just starting out, were hoping to gain insight for future endeavors.  A number of topics were covered including identifying business opportunities, building teams and networks, and developing business models.

One of the main themes of the day was money and how to acquire enough of it to build and maintain a successful business. Once you propose a product or project, how do you overcome the hurdle of financially supporting it from start to finish? One strategy discussed was crowdsourcing, or soliciting contributions from a large group of people.  This can be achieved by posting your proposed plan or project on a crowdsourcing website.  The project creators choose a deadline and funding goal and provide rewards to those who donate.  A number of sites were discussed, including the following:

  1. Kickstarter – The most popular website, with the highest site traffic.
  1. IndiegogoThis site has no application process and is accessible world-wide,  allowing it to host a wide variety of projects and inventions.
  1. Plum AlleyAlthough not as well known as the first two, this site prides itself    on helping female entrepreneurs achieve their goals, with 75% of the                               audience (i.e. donors, funders) being women.

Although all of these websites offer the opportunity to showcase and receive funding for your projects, it also affords the opportunity for you to support other innovators through funding contributions!

We are pleased to have been given the opportunity to attend the Womensphere Summit and Awards on Innovation, Invention, and Exploration.  For more information on advice for women in STEM fields and entrepreneurial tips, attend our workshop on Wednesday, April 1st at 4 pm in Larkin 150!


Beth Ansaldi ‘16

Chelsea Butcher ‘17

Marly Katz ‘17

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Filed under Biological Sciences, Conference, Graduate Students, GSAS Futures, STEM, Upcoming Event

How to Conference: Tips on Attending Like a Pro

A large part of building your professional CV or resume is showing interest in and an updated awareness of your field. An easy way to create this line on paper and introduce yourself to others in your area of specialty is to attend a conference.

There are all kinds, with topics and themes ranging from the broad to almost ridiculously specific. This, of course, makes it seem overwhelming and frankly, a little tiresome to comb through the various calls for paper to find something that fits your interest, level of specialty or education, and will assist you in making connections or finding jobs. However, there are a few basic tips that can help you narrow the search, feel a bit more comfortable when applying, and get out onto the field.

Right off the bat, never feel that you are too inexperienced or too new to attend a conference. If anything, heading to a conference—even if you’re just there to listen and get to know people—is a great way to gain the experience and confidence needed to walk to the front of a room and just talk. Mostly, because, even if you just go to take everything in, you’ll see it’s not as serious as you feared. Nothing can make you feel better about stage fright than watching a respected scholar mispronounce the word “et cetera.”

And on that note, attend conferences as a master’s student.  This way, when you decide to submit papers as a PhD candidate, you know the general format of the prominent conferences in your field and can prepare accordingly. Some fields are okay with presenting or reading an unfinished paper, others have specific rules and panel formats. If you go to a few ahead of time you’ll feel more comfortable when it’s your turn to apply.

Feeling nervous and want to test run a presentation? Try to find a more informal conference with mainly student participants. These are usually put on by graduate associations for local students, such as Fordham’s GSA Conference, and are broad conferences welcoming papers from across disciplines. Conferences like this can help you get feedback and also show your professors that you are serious about expanding a certain paper or research topic into a solid presentation (future recommendations anyone?).

Go to the same conferences as your professors and advanced PhDs. If you’re feeling uncertain about what conferences to invest in, ask or emulate the professors and older PhDs in your area of specialty. Sometimes the right fit isn’t as obvious as you may think.

Also, don’t neglect more professional conferences if they’re relevant to your field or your career goals. Conferences that are focused on practical application can be an important element of your presenting as a well-rounded job applicant. Finding the right sort of professional conference can be hard but it is well worth it—they’re usually filled with people who have the authority to hire you.

In short, go to conferences! Test run a few as an attendee and then apply to participate. It’s worth the expense and more often than not you’ll have a great time and gain some confidence.


Dewis Shallcross, GSAS ‘14
Administrative Assistant and Events Coordinator


Would you like to be a student contributor? See our upcoming topics schedule and then submit your proposal online!

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