Reverse detail from Kakelbont MS 1, a fifteenth-century French Psalter. This image is in the public domain. Daniel Paul O'Donnell

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English 3450a: Essay and Presentation Topics

Posted: Oct 17, 2007 11:10;
Last Modified: Oct 17, 2007 11:10

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For essays and presentations, I encourage students to develop topics based on recent work in the field. A good way of finding what’s current is to follow conference programmes and proceedings.

At a typical conference, lectures are presented in groups of three (a “Session”). These sessions are usually put together by an individual scholar or group, who propose a broad theme and then issue a “Call for Papers” inviting others to submit proposals for lectures that fit the suggested topic. Usually speakers proposing topics are asked to submit a one page abstract as well, so the organisers can make an informed choice among the submissions.

For our purposes, conference sessions are useful because they indicate the type of problems people are working on currently. Researchers typically give presentation on material from their current unpublished or forthcoming research. Abstracts and titles of individual papers give you a sense of some specific approaches you might also be interested in.

For Old English, there are several good places to look. The two main annual medieval conferences are the International Congress on Medieval Studies at the University of Western Michigan (Kalamazoo) and the Congress at Leeds University. The International Society of Anglo-Saxonists holds its conference biennially (in odd years), although it places less emphasis on session titles. The conference of the Modern Language Association is held each year between Christmas and New Year. It is a general interest conference but usually has a small number of Old English sessions.

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