Having now been part of a selection committee for a grad student conference, I now feel quasi-validated to offer some advice about the abstracts you submit:

#1. Dude. It’s an ENGLISH GRAD STUDENT CONFERENCE. Spelling and grammar errors WILL be held against you, and will incite much snark.

#2. The second rule of English Club is that SPELLING AND GRAMMAR MATTER. If you too are an English grad student, you should really not need to be told this. If you do have to be told this, perhaps this is not the field for you. (Note bene:  I know that there are brilliant people who have learning disabilities such as dyslexia that makes spelling difficult, but if this is one of your afflictions, please get a friend, professor, writing center indentured servant, what have you to proofread your abstract. Because it matters.)

#3. If you discuss in your abstract two utterly disparate ideas, we will seriously doubt that you can deliver a 20 minute paper. For example, if you discuss, hypothetically, the remaking of Psycho by Gus Van Sant and the function of Freudian Id and Superego as relates to the plot THEN throw in what seems like a random aside about how you also plan to discuss the function of blood in the film, well, perhaps you are casting your net too wide. Think concise, tidy, and wrapped up in a neat little bow. Don’t chase lots of separate threads. Make it cohesive. If, perhaps, you have some brilliant way that the blood fits in with your Freudian analysis, then for god’s sake, mention it in the abstract.

#4. Please don’t refer to something 16 years old as “contemporary” or “new.”

#5. ‘Dialog’ can be used as a verb, it’s true. But, in my humble opinion, this doesn’t mean you should. You can also wear pants on your head, but that doesn’t mean you should do that, either.

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