Thoughts from an LSJ Conference Veteran

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Lehigh Culture & Community / Literature & Social Justice

In a short two and a half weeks, Halloween will be upon us. More importantly, abstracts will be due for the third Literature and Social Justice Graduate Conference being held at Lehigh on March 10-11, 2017. Fear not: I’m here to tell you that submitting to the conference is much less bloodcurdling (and anxiety inducing) than it seems. Though I’m just starting my PhD here this fall, I’ve been a part of the LSJ conference since its beginning. For the past two years, I’ve presented papers, and I am now on the committee (as Art Director/Graphic Design/Marketing Guru, no less!) for the third iteration. In the midst of our planning, I have been reflecting a bit on my involvement as a presenter, and I wanted to share this experience with you all here on the blog.


Back in the good ol’ days of 2014, I distinctly remember the thrill of coming across a call for papers (cfp) that fit exactly what I was researching at the time. So, I applied, got accepted, all that fun stuff. I have to say that while I remember some of the panels at the conference, I only wholly recall the way that I felt. The atmosphere is welcoming overall, and it’s  wonderful to engage with fellow scholars about research we are all invested in. Full disclosure: I attended other graduate conferences, and they didn’t touch Lehigh’s ability to foster such intellectual rigor and diversity in an organized event. I remembered this feeling when the cfp for the second conference came out the following year and immediately submitted again.


Despite the fact that I was already a seasoned conference participant when I first presented at the LSJ conference, I attended with colleagues with less experience, and I know they found the experience rewarding. It has relatively low stakes; now, I don’t mean this to say that the conference itself isn’t significant, but rather that everyone is supportive of your work, and you build valuable connections. Again, this is part of the reason I returned the second year (aside from actually being accepted to present, you know). It was also another reason I ended up applying and eventually accepting a position here for my PhD. If that’s not enough proof, I don’t know what is.

I’m offering this anecdote in the hopes of inspiring my fellow graduate students, especially first year MAs, to submit abstracts to the conference as a great way to gain experience, engage with other scholars, and have a great time. If not you, tell your friends! If you have any questions or concerns, I’d be more than happy to chat with you. And hey, if it’s somehow terrible after all I’ve built it up to be, you can totally blame me for it.

For reference, the link to the cfp can be found here.

Follow the conference on social media! @lsjlehigh

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