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Melanie Zefferino

The 2013 Newberry Multidisciplinary Graduate Student Conference: A multifaceted experience

This year I had the honour and pleasure to contribute to the organisation of the 2013 Newberry Multidisciplinary Graduate Conference. Before telling more about this experience I wish to thank the Newberry Centre for Renaissance Studies Consortium for having selected me as one the conference organisers, and address special thanks to Dr. Carla Zecher and Dr. Karen Christiansen for their hospitality at The Newberry. I also wish to express my gratitude to the University of Warwick and the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance for supporting my candidacy and funding my trips to Chicago. And lastly, warmest thanks go to my supervisors, Dr. Louise Bourdua and Dr. Margaret E. Shewring, who first recommended me as a candidate.

Taking part to the organisation process of the Newberry Multidisciplinary Postgraduate Student Conference is a shared experience, which I enjoyed above all with five peers –-Michelle L. Beer (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Megan Gregory (Illinois State University), Geoffrey A. Johns (Michigan State University), William Storm (Marquette University), and Christopher van den Berge (University of Illinois at Chicago) – working under the guidance of Dr. Karen Christianson (see

Initially we worked in groups of two to review a number of abstracts submitted and select the presenters to invite. Then, all together, we organised the papers selected into coherent panels, and each of us chose two panels to chair. At this stage I learned how different criteria, some of which I had never thought about, should be taken in consideration for a selection process. I also figured out how to chair a conference session following the guidelines provided by The Newberry, which included useful suggestions on how to prepare a panel, introduce the speakers, help them to present their paper at best, and engage the audience at question time.

The conference featured speeches of outstanding academic quality spanning different disciplines, and live discussions with a collaborative audience. Besides, this event was an occasion to meet postgraduate students with different backgrounds and interests. Also worthwhile was the possibility to visit the Newberry Library, and see how this prestigious institution ensures the preservation and fruition of its collection of manuscripts and prints.

At the end of the conference all the organisers attended the editorial meeting set up to select the best papers for inclusion in the conference proceedings publication, and each of us chose two essays to review. I look forward to going into this process in the forthcoming months, during which I will have the chance to work as contributing editor with two authors and, not least, the editor.

Overall, being involved in the organisation and editorial process of the 2013 Newberry Multidisciplinary Graduate Student Conference has been an invaluable, many-sided experience, which I was fortunate to earn and wish to other Warwick students in the future.