Seniors Organize Conference About English Literature


Dasha Post '23

Student moderators and featured writers pose with Dr. Monica Huerta.

Dr. Kathryn Fleishman’s Honors Senior English class hosted the inaugural Literature in Time Conference (LiT) on April 10, culminating months of preparation during which students analyzed literature, reviewed student essay submissions, and planned seminars. The organizers sought to provide the community with a space to share academic work outside the bounds of grading and attracted a guest speaker from Princeton University, Dr. Monica Huerta, who spoke about her own work as an author and professor.

Dr. Fleishman’s students created the LiT Conference as part of their capstone project. Organizing an event of this magnitude required intensive planning. Stella Ren ’22, a student organizer in Honors English, said, “We’ve been preparing for this conference for a long time. After receiving the submissions, we read through them all, rating them, and selecting the ones to present at the conference.” 

The class solicited well-written essays focused on works of literature or literary criticism for the conference. In February, Upper Mids and Seniors anonymously submitted essays, which were reviewed for selection by the 11 Seniors. Ren said, “For the conference, we were looking for different nuances of close reading of literature. One of the main goals was to formulate and present essays with themes that clash with each other.”

Ultimately, the class chose 12 essays to present at the conference. They further categorized these works into three seminars — “About Time,” moderated by Stella Ren ’22 and Rex McArthur ’22; “Sum of its Parts,” moderated by Eric Jin ’22 and Yihan Ding ’22; and “Just One Thing,” moderated by Kasen Mo ’22 and Kenny Zhang ’22. The essays’ authors began each session by reading their work, after which the moderators opened a Q&A panel. Jacqueline Wang ’23, whose essay was among those selected, appreciated the opportunity to receive constructive feedback from the community. She said, “I want to improve my skills in general and receive others’ feedback. I loved that I had this opportunity to be able to discuss my essay together with others and learn from them.”

The conference concluded with a presentation by Dr. Huerta, who is an assistant professor of English at Princeton University. She spoke about and read from her book Magical Habits, which combines elements of a personal narrative with an archive of photographs and menus from her family’s Mexican restaurant. Sada Schumann ’22 and Allison Lin ’22, both members of the Honors English class, conducted a Q&A. 

The conference provided a space for the Senior organizers, students whose essays were featured, and the whole community, to learn, admire each other’s work, and share ideas with each other.