Conference picOver the summer I was offered the opportunity to submit an abstract for the annual South Eastern Medieval Association (SEMA) conference. My abstract was accepted and I spent the next several months developing a paper to present in Little Rock, Arkansas.

This was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had during my graduate career at Longwood. Not only was I given the opportunity to present my research, but I was able to spend three days meeting, and conversing, with some of the greatest scholars in my field. I spent my time at the conference sitting in on panel sessions, listening to the original research of established medievalists.

When it came time for me to present my paper, I was fortunate enough to be on a panel with Mary Leech from the University of Cincinnati and Tina Boyer from Wake Forest University (the two women in the picture with me).  It was intimidating to be presenting alongside two established scholars, but they were nothing but supportive and encouraging.

One of the highlights of my trip was a morning session called “Breakfast with Chaucer.” This session was dedicated to the art of speaking Middle English. I was able to sit down with both experts and novices (like myself) and read aloud from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. This gave me the opportunity to practice Middle English and receive feedback from experts on how I could improve. This session is a perfect example of the community at this conference; experienced scholars making a point to help younger students learn to navigate the world of academia.

I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend SEMA. I made great connections and came back to Longwood inspired, and ready to dive back into my own thesis research.