Kenneth Burke once described the process of doing literary criticism by comparing the work to attending a cocktail party. You arrive late, he noted, and find that a conversation is occurring. After standing on the fringes of the group long enough to apprehend the nature of the conversation, you decide to enter it and offer your opinion.
Our conference theme seeks to employ both elements of Burke's metaphor: the context in which a critical conversation has taken place and the current discussions about the issue in question. By becoming aware of what has been said can we as critics hope to enter the conversation and have an impact on its direction? Our conference provides a forum for just these sorts of conversations, as we invite students to present their ideas about literature in the form of analytical and research papers, and then facilitate discussions of these papers in small-group settings. Finally, our keynote speech aims to interject another critical perspective to help foster conversations even after the conference ends.
Scholarly papers should engage contemporary literary criticism as they grapple with a work of literature, an author, a literary problem. Analytical and interpretive papers should be carefully argued, as comprehensive as possible in their treatment of a text or texts, and aware of the influence on their views of the contemporary cultural context. The conference is particularly interested in encouraging students to investigate how the mix of contemporary literary criticism and contemporary student readers can provide insights into potentially age-old questions surrounding literary works.
While the primary emphasis of NUCL is on critical writing, we also invite student poets and essayists to submit 1 essay, or a suite of 5-7 poems. Those chosen will read their work in a few sessions reserved for original poetry and essays. Submitted student poetry and essays should reflect reading experience in contemporary poetry and creative non-fiction.
Complete the NUCL Submission Form.
Following the directions at the top of the Submission Form, email your submission and the form to firstname.lastname@example.org as attachments.
NUCL is sponsored by University of Portland's Department of English, Department of International Languages and Cultures, Office of the Provost, College of Arts & Sciences, and dean of admissions.
"To talk in public, to think in solitude, to read and to hear, to inquire, and to answer inquiries, is the business of a scholar." Samuel Johnson, Chapter VIII, The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia