FAQs about Applying to ESAL

What is an “abstract”?

An abstract is a short, usually one or two paragraph (often less than 300 word) explanation of your topic, your text (if applicable) and the argument for your paper. What are you going to talk about? What kinds of theory are you using to frame your work? Who or what is your project responding to?

What do “good abstracts” usually do?

  • They introduce the text (remember the organizers might not be familiar with your text)
  • They introduce your argument (thesis, thesis, thesis)
  • They connect with the conference theme. Keep in mind that you can be creative with your connection to our theme—many, many topics can be framed in terms of the conference theme.
  • The might also give a sense of what scholars or field you are most clearly in conversation with.

Do I have to have my paper done before I write an abstract?

Nope, you only have to have an idea for a paper. Of course, if you already have a paper written, this might make your abstract much easier to write. Often academics will re-tailor papers to fit new conference themes. So, you might think about how you can take something you’ve already written and reframe for the theme or purpose of this conference.


How soon will I hear if I got in to the conference?

You will know within a few weeks if your paper has been accepted. Organizers of ESAL will notify you either way.

How long should my presentation paper be?

A general rule is that one double-spaced page (12pt font) takes about 2 or 3 minutes to read out loud. For this conference, each presenter is provided with a 12-minute time slot. Therefore, your presentation paper should be between 6-8 pages in length.

Does the conference cost anything?

Nope! Conference registration is free. And, so is breakfast and lunch.

What will presenting at ESAL do for me?

  • If you are thinking, even a little bit, about going to graduate school, this is a great opportunity to try out “academic life” in a non-threatening, welcoming environment. Think of it as practice for what is to come. Plus, it will look great on your graduate school application.
  • If you are thinking about becoming a teacher, this is a professional development activity that you can put on your resume. And, you will get a chance to practice giving a talk, and making an argument to a captive audience (something you will have to do all the time as a teacher).
  • If you are thinking about going into a business setting, you can put this on your resume. Further, you can practice your networking skills and your public speaking skills.

Who is the audience for these presentations?

The audience for ESAL is a range of undergraduate students, graduate students, friends and family members, as well as faculty members from Illinois State University and surrounding colleges.

What do I do if I have further questions or concerns?

Email us! We are happy to answer questions as they come up.

Who runs this conference?

Two advanced doctoral students, Meg Gregory and Shelby Regan, are the conference organizers for 2016. They are supported by Dr. McLaughlin and Dr. Parry, who are the advisors for Illinois State University’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter. Meg has been a co-organizer of the conference for the last three years. She works with life writing and gender in Medieval Studies. Shelby was a panel moderator with the conference last year. Her research interests include feminist ethics and issues of gender and morality in children’s and young adult literature. Meg and Shelby also solicit help from fellow graduate students for supporting roles on the day of the conference.   Both Meg and Shelby are excited to work with you!


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