For the first time this year, the Parents Association Symposium, part of the Undergraduate Research Conference, will host four panel sessions in the field of ethnic studies, an effort organized by Cord Whitaker, assistant professor of English. The 18 student presenters demonstrate just how interdisciplinary the field of ethnic studies is. They represent departments and programs from across the College, including anthropology, English, English/journalism, English literature, English teaching, German, linguistics, political science, and sociology.
“Critical race and ethnic studies gives each person the tools to live and work intelligently and successfully—to become his or her own best self—in an increasingly multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and multi-cultural world,” says Whitaker. “The URC gives students a forum in which to show their peers, their teachers, and the other citizens of the world around them what ethnic studies work is and why it matters so very much.”
The four panels take place on Friday, April 27, in the Memorial Union Building. Nineteen presentations under four broad topics will occur in two sets of concurrent sessions: African Literature: Reading and Writing the Postcolony (9:30-10:40 a.m., room 302); The Matter of Difference and the Middle Ages, or Language, Faith, Race, and Time (9:30-10:40 a.m., room 304); Digitizing Native American Literature (10:50 a.m.-noon, room 304); and Postcolonial Fiction: Salman Rushdie and Beyond (10:50 a.m.-noon, room 302).
In the fourth panel, senior Peter Kispert of Hanover, NH, will be presenting research on tribal culture and communication in Indian writer Mahasweta Devi’s novella, Pterodactyl, a project he undertook under the direction of Sandhya Shetty, professor of English.
“I’m pleased to be presenting with such skilled professors and students, intervening and engaging in ongoing scholarly conversations,” says Kispert. “So, when I was contacted about this opportunity, I was naturally very excited by the prospect of presenting. At the conference, I hope to learn more about authors, the postcolonial canon, and what current, germane scholarship exists with regard to these and other texts.”