Well, another week is wrapping up at Lehigh—one step closer to Spring Break, another to the end of term. As you plan for the weekend, (which includes some time for relaxation, right?) you might be looking for something completely different from your standard two-day routine. I know I am—seriously, there is only so much Netflix that I can handle on a given day without feeling that terrible mixture of self-loathing and pure time-wasting joy.
Thankfully, the Literature and Social Justice Conference Committee has a solution to your weekend planning woes! This weekend, starting tonight, marks the second annual graduate student conference held by our very own English department. I am sure you have seen the flyers, read the emails, and noticed the Facebook page, right? Not only do we have a rather awesome line-up of presentations, roundtables, and, of course a nice spread of food (there may or may not be baklava involved) planned for your enjoyment, but we also can offer you the chance to actively support our commitment to our very own focus on social justice and our department’s growing interest in discussions around community engagement, digital projects, and public humanities initiatives. We hope that you can stick around on Saturday to support our own Lehigh presenters and see what other graduate students from different universities, alums, and community members are bringing to the rather diverse conversations about justice and publics within and away from the discipline.
“But wait,” you may say, “I am a busy graduate student and I need to know in advance what the major events of the conference are so I can manage my time responsibly!” Fret not! Again, the conference committee has you covered. For those of you who are rushed, or who like to have an informed plan before going into a conference, here is a breakdown list of events and highlights that you won’t want to miss during the weekend. For a full schedule and a list of panels and paper titles, head over to our website.
Prof. Deep Singh’s Keynote Address:
Today at 4:10pm in the Global Commons (Williams Hall), Deep will kick off the conference with his talk, “The Classroom is a Public.” Arguing that “teaching — something we’re already doing, but which we don’t always value — can be a potentially transformative form of social action,” Deep will show how our act of creating “open (but still directed / constrained) spaces of debate and discussion” within the classroom allows us to model the possibilities of a public space. Responding to the ever-growing development and focus on digital-teaching environments, this talk will be great for anyone teaching at Lehigh now, or who are drawn to the discussion surrounding the digital focus within the classroom. Foregrounding the main event of the conference, this lecture will surely set the stage for discussions on the following day. For his own description of the talk, check our conference website.
The Faculty Roundtable:
Starting at 11:00am on Saturday in the Global Commons, Profs. Brooke Rollins, Mary Foltz, Seth Moglen, Scott Gordon, and James Peterson will each bring to the table their unique perspectives and projects concerning the broader terms: public humanities. If you want to hear what our faculty members are contributing to the discussion, or just want to listen to all of them talk together in the same room, I highly recommend making time for this session. I know we’re excited to hear how each of our faculty members are working to define, challenge, and speak to the ongoing efforts to engage in larger discussions outside of our familiar classrooms. Luckily, we’ve planned no other panels during this roundtable discussion, so you have no messy decisions to make. Immediately following the roundtable, lunch will be served (*cough* baklava *cough*). Which brings us to our next don’t-miss-it event…
Breakout Lunch Discussion Groups:
Lunch at a conference can sometimes be a mixed-bag. Sometimes you take your food and decompress after a presentation, and/or you may also potentially strike up conversations with old colleagues, friends, and fellow presenters about the conference, the field, or your own research. In an effort to challenge the norm of a conference lunch break, we want to encourage our participants and presenters to continue their discussions away from the traditional panels. To aid in this effort, we have invited members of the Lehigh community, past and present, to organize mini and informal discussion groups around specific themes. Feel free to travel from group to group during lunch to hear all about efforts concerning service learning, relationships between the town/gown, and community art initiatives.
The Roundtable of Lehigh Alums and Current Students:
At 4:15 in the Global Commons we will prepare for the closing of our conference by capping the presentations of the evening with an alum and student led roundtable discussion that showcases how we can take our theories (many of which will be discussed during the day) and put them into practice. If you are interested in seeing how past and current students are informing and reaching out to the public with their dissertations, community outreach projects, film talkbacks, and public curation and lecture projects, then this roundtable discussion is for you. From the film buff to the archivist, this roundtable will surely spark some ideas for creatively bringing our scholarship to a public audience. This is also a chance to show our collective support to our colleagues and friends who are actively trying to reach beyond the walls of the university.
After the final roundtable (5:30pm), we will end the evening and our second conference with wine, conversation, and lifted spirits. What better way to end an academic conference than celebrating and toasting the events of the days past? Join us as we thank those that helped contribute to our discussions on the public humanities, shared their projects, time and interests with our community.