On November 7th, 2015, the English Graduate Organization hosted the annual EGO Conference. Graduate and undergraduate students from Illinois and Missouri, as well as WIU faculty members, presented their intellectual knowledge on various aspects of literature. As a first year graduate student at WIU, I chose to present my paper, The Degrees of Shakespearean Heroes: Coriolanus and Romeo. This was my first time presenting my work at a conference and I was extremely nervous. However, it was an incredible opportunity to learn about the research interests of many other presenters. It was a wonderful day, surrounded by intellectuals who are so completely involved in the field of English.
The Shakespeare panel that I presented on was at the very beginning of the conference. I presented alongside Rebecca Gonner, a senior English major at WIU, and Dr. Christopher Morrow, an Associate Professor of English at WIU. Dr. William Kuskin, the Key Note Speaker from UC-Boulder, was present in the audience, which did little to abate my nerves. However, the presentation went successfully. Rebecca and Dr. Morrow gave impressive presentations focusing on Iago’s obsession with control in Othello and the problems of Shakespeare-inspired board games, respectively. It was an honor to present among such esteemed scholars. The audience members asked probing, thought-provoking questions, causing me to truly consider other possibilities with my literary studies, which was greatly appreciated.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend all of the panels, as many overlapped periodically throughout the day. However, I had the opportunity to attend several panels that were riveting. The first panel I attended was focused on the representation of identity in comic books and the presentations ranged from the anti-hero, Deadpool, to Truman Capote’s experiences researching the inspiration for There Will Be Blood. As a reader who has not yet had a lot of exposure to comic books, I truly appreciated learning more about this particular branch of the English discipline.
The second panel I had the opportunity to attend was Interactivity and Gaming. Gaming studies is another area that I have little familiarity with. It was fascinating to learn from the presenters about narrative within the different video games that were discussed. Eliza Wells, a first year graduate student at WIU, presented on The Sims, discussing how the computer game is a narrative of capitalism and consumerism. The Sims was the only game discussed in this panel that I had any familiarity with and it was intriguing to see the game read in the lens of Communism.
The final panel I attended was a mix of Lacan, the Theatre, and the Avant-Garde. The first presenter, Christopher Ginn, presented a paper he had written on sexual repression in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The other two presentations, by second year graduate student, Cody Cunningham and Dr. Merrill Cole, an Associate Professor of English at WIU, used high theory to formulate the arguments they were expressing. These presentations exposed me to new literary concepts that I had not yet explored.
The day was broken up with Dr. William Kuskin’s fantastic presentation that narrated not only his personal experiences but his research of Marvel’s Iron Man, comparing the character Tony Stark’s experiences with Kuskin’s own heart-related issues. The presentation brilliantly blended personal narrative with academically founded research in a way that I had not heard before. Kuskin was an excellent choice for a key note speaker, providing the conference with a thought-provoking essay and a brilliant presentation.
Overall, this conference was a complete success. The diverse panels allowed for participants of the conference to experience new avenues of research and literature. It was an incredible opportunity to not only expand my literary horizons, but to get to know the presenters as well. I look forward to future EGO conferences. This experience made me eager to learn and I’m so pleased that I didn’t let my nerves keep me from missing out on this amazing conference.