English majors descend on Hamline

Klas Center hosts the annual ACTC English Majors Conference.

On Friday, Apr. 13, there was a lot more than just the snow heading Hamline’s way. Lovers of literature from three other Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities (ACTC) schools joined those who call Hamline home for the annual ACTC English Majors Conference, hosted this year in Hamline’s Klas Center.

“Like any conference, it is to celebrate the work that we do as literary scholars,” Hamline English Professor Davu Seru said in a pre-conference interview. “To demonstrate that profession among a group of peers… ACTC, in a lot of ways, is really about claiming ownership, as a community of both educators and learners… Here we do that through the discipline of literary scholarship.”

The conference’s theme for 2018 was “Connections, Divisions, and Intersections,” focusing on the similarities, differences and overlaps between and within works of literature.

Seru explained that the papers that would be presented at the conference “fit very loosely and creatively around and into that broader theme” and would encourage attendees to imagine and speculate about the meanings of those three terms within current cultural contexts.

The first two concurrent sessions, focusing on British Literature and World & Multicultural Literatures respectively, would be held from 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., while the second sessions, which would last from 3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., centered around American Literature and Film, New Media & Theory.

The conference kicked off at 1 p.m. with an opening reception in the Kay Fredericks Ballroom. Attendees from Hamline, St. Thomas, St. Catherine and Augsburg mingled amongst their peers while munching on the complimentary snacks and staving off any last nerves about presenting.

“Speaking at Hamline will be an honor,” St. Thomas junior Tove Conway said. Conway presented a paper entitled “A Fictional and Feminist Movement: Comparing the Voices of Margaret Atwood and Virginia Woolf” during the British Literature session of the conference.

“[I’m] a little nervous, I did speak at the Literati conference in Madison about three weeks ago, so I’ve had a little practice on what I’m going to say today, but I’m excited to get to talk about it again with a different audience.”

Across the floor, Augsburg senior Jackie Docka, who presented a paper called “Queer Library Cataloging,” was ripe with similar enthusiasm.

“We’re here to celebrate the English language today, and the great, different pieces of literature that we read in our courses, and I’m really excited to see what everyone else is presenting about,” Docka said.

After half an hour of socializing, Seru offered the students a formal greeting to the conference.

“Officially, I would like to say welcome,” Seru said, “to this meeting of minds, on this Friday the 13th… I’m a superstitious person, the kind who thinks if you knock on wood it actually works. I hope you will be forgiven for whatever strange things happen today.”

Seru then passed the torch to Hamline English Professor Mike Reynolds, who offered a similarly jovial salutation.

“In this era of Twitter and Instachat and Snapgram, and all these endless spaces for soliloquies, the role of the dialogic gets lost,” said Reynolds, going on to assert that literature was fundamentally about dialogue and there was no such thing as a single-voice text.