Steffi’s Conference Experience

Steffi in explorer-mode in Lisbon.

After recapping both conference days and interviewing Teresa Botelho and Jeanne Theoharis, Annika and I thought it would be nice to tell you about our own impressions from the conference! So we interviewed each other about our experiences as part of the documentation team.

Annika: What was your favorite part of the conference?

Steffi: My personal highlight was Ewa Scibior’s presentation on how novels like Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin and Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran created and shaped a gay community in the 1970s. Since my own interests lie primarily in literature and its intersections with queer theory and history, her talk was extremely interesting to me. I was also impressed with how clearly she structured her presentation, which made it easy to follow along with what she was saying. I’m a little proud of myself for gathering the courage to ask Ewa two questions during discussion time and she was very kind in answering them. It was really great to be able to hear from someone with similar research interests and talk to them face to face about those topics.

How was it to be part of the documentation team?

It was nice to be able to attend the conference without being nervous about presenting. I really enjoyed taking photos and filming short parts of the presentations. In retrospect, I wish I had taken more care with the camera settings to fix the terrible lighting in the lecture halls, but I didn’t want to disturb the speakers by taking a lot of photos in order to get the perfect shot. Going through all of the footage and picking the best bits from it as well as writing the posts here has been fun and a great way to process everything that happened during that exciting weekend. In the end, I was almost a little sad that I hadn’t presented myself, as I saw how happy our presenters were after successfully tackling their first conference. But, the organizers announced that they might plan a conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots next summer – I would definitely be up for presenting then!

What is your main takeaway from the conference?

The conference reminded me why I love studying so much and really motivated me for the rest of the semester and the rest of the Masters program. Not that I wasn’t motivated before, but the conference somehow brought out a special enthusiasm about my research interests that I hadn’t felt in a while and gave me a big boost of energy to tackle all the work coming in the next weeks and months. I’m really grateful for that. Also, I learned a lot about how a good presentation is structured and delivered, and I can’t wait to put that knowledge to use in my own upcoming presentations at university.

Any tips for students who are attending a conference for the first time?

Don’t be shy! Especially at smaller conferences, everyone seems to be very approachable and friendly, so take the chance and have interesting conversations with people you haven’t met before.

Read all about Annika’s conference experience in our next post!

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