I have attended quite a few conferences, but I usually only do so with available funding. However, I have made the pilgrimage to the Eastern American Studies Association conference annually since I was a Masters student. My undergraduate and graduate institutions are very heavily involved, and this past school year, I was proud to serve as the graduate student representative on the executive board, as well as being conference co-coordinator. Needless to say, it was a hectic weekend.
The conference was held at my alma mater, La Salle University, and although the weather could have been better (it was rainy and cool), the campus looked great and was a fantastic host. I had lots of helpers in the form of undergraduate American studies students. My presentation on the New York Times crossword puzzle as a pivotal text went well, and the same paper even won an award for best graduate student paper. To win at my alma mater was a little emotional and very flattering.
EASA is a regional conference that is loosely affiliated with the national ASA, and our plenary session covered the future of the field in light of the boycott. I was not able to see the entire panel, since I was needed elsewhere at the conference, and thus, I would direct you to the blog of my colleague, John Price (see “What Am I Reading?” tab). He has a three part breakdown of the weekend, including posts dedicated to the plenary session and the roundtable on the gender binary (which I moderated, but I just made sure they ended on time).
Regional conferences like EASA are excellent ways for graduate students to effectively network, present research, and get some professional experience. Our conference even features an undergraduate roundtable, where exceptional students from regional schools can present and compete for an award for the best undergraduate student paper. I am always blown away by the maturity of research and scholarship among these students.
I will probably attend EASA until I get my doctorate, and hopefully, I’ll be able to serve on the board again afterwards.
– The Lady Americanist.