History graduate students present papers at Rocky Mountain Council of Latin America Studies Conference
Posted: May 12, 2008
The students delivered scholarly presentations based on papers produced in their research seminars. RMCLAS is the largest of the Latin American regional organizations. It attracts both international scholars, as well as, encourages graduate students to present the first fruits of their original research. Professors from the History Department attending this year included Virginia Burnett, Seth Garfield, Ann Twinam, and L. J. Andrew Villalon.
Graduate students recount conference experience:
“Unnatural Acts between Men and Beasts: Bestiality, Patriarchy and Legal Accountability in Colonial Parral”
Attending RMCLAS was a great experience! Before the conference, we worked with Dr. Twinam for months cutting down our papers and practicing presenting them. Learning what kind of information should go into a conference paper was very valuable. For me, practicing how to read the paper was the most helpful. It can be so nerve wracking getting up in front of other scholars you do not know to present your thoughts and ideas. But because we had worked with Dr. Twinam for so long, by the time we got there, we were all confident that our papers were polished and professional. The conference itself was great because we got to see a mix of eminent historians and graduate students present their work. Everyone was friendly and had constructive criticism and encouraging feedback.
“A Life on the Margins: Logwood Cutters, Spanish Coastal Populations, and Imperial Rivalry in Yucatán, 1660-1717”
I think I did a much better job meeting people and networking this year. The conference helped me put together better three-sentence "elevator" summaries of what I do. I think this will serve me well for getting to know more people in the field. I also got two or three really good citations for things to add to my paper in preparation for hopefully bringing it to publication.
“The Martyrdom of Monseñor Angelelli: The Popular Creation of Martyrs in Twentieth-Century Argentina”
RMCLAS was the first professional conference that I attended in my budding career as a historian. Last spring, Dr. Twinam helped me mold eight months of research into a seminar paper, then, this fall, she once again offered guidance, support, and constant feedback as I whittled the paper down to a conference-length presentation. In addition, Dr. Twinam listened patiently as I practiced delivering my talk, and helped me polish my public speaking skills. Through this experience, I have learned how to craft and deliver a scholarly presentation, and I feel well-prepared to tackle my next conference!
“Sexual Angst of Empire: Drunken Soldiers, Diseased Prostitutes, and the Panama Canal, 1914-1921”
I learned that preparation for a successful conference paper begins before the actual conference. We met as a group weeks before leaving Flagstaff to practice delivering our papers within 15 minutes. Collectively we discussed the pace of delivery, inflection, eye contact, and other details that went into a successful presentation. This paid off at the conference. At RMCLAS, we all delivered sharp, well organized, and concise papers. This preparation facilitated interesting questions from the audience and a productive scholarly discussion.
“‘What Are You Going to Do About It?’ U.S. and Central American Activism in Dallas, 1981-1990”
RMCLAS was a great introduction to attending conferences. The atmosphere was relaxed and unintimidating--a great combination for nervous graduate students giving their first paper. For those thinking of attending conferences, I pass on Dr. Twinam's advice: make sure you keep your paper within the time limit, and maybe even a little shorter--it helps you to be more comfortable and less nervous.
Prof. Ann Twinam
Latin America area History Department professors
Rocky Mountain Council Latin American Studies Conference