Associate Alumni Representative, 2011-2012
At many other academic conferences, the term “panel” refers to a group of papers presented at the same time in the same room. At our conventions, these are called paper sessions. Panels at our conventions were not for papers but for topic discussions. But many people were confused. So, this year panels have been re-branded to better reflect what they were always supposed to be: roundtable discussions.
Roundtables are not the place to present papers, even if a chapter has 4 or 5 papers on the same topic. Roundtables are a way for people to share their expertise or experience and then to facilitate a dialogue with the audience members.
Roundtables can be presented by one chapter, or, even better, by members of several chapters working together. For example, a roundtable could be made up of all the officers from one chapter talking about their experiences publishing a journal, or it could be the chief editors of four different chapter journals comparing notes.
The people submitting the roundtable should be prepared to answer in-depth questions about a particular topic and to stimulate conversation by asking thought-provoking questions of the audience and to invite the audience members to contribute to the discussion. Roundtables might start off with a short presentation, but the main goal is not to give a one-sided presentation. It is to encourage engaged and productive discussion and collaboration between the presenters and the audience.
Roundtables are evaluated separately from papers, so members are eligible to submit a roundtable proposal even if they have already submitted two works (critical paper or creative work) as well. As a result of fewer than usual presentation rooms in our 2012 hotel, competition will be fierce for getting a roundtable proposal accepted. So it is imperative that you read the instructions closely. They can be found at http://www.englishconvention.org/sigmatd/conv/roundtables.html
One other thing that is different is that, starting this year, roundtable submissions require both a short abstract and a longer description of the topic. So don’t wait until the last minute. Make sure you know exactly what you want to talk about and why you think it would be a good addition to the convention program.
Special consideration will be given to roundtables that discuss the common reader and to roundtables that involve members of more than one chapter, so those are some things to keep in mind if you want to give your proposal that extra push.
Roundtables are always interesting and engaging, and I look forward to seeing what great ideas people come up with this year. If you haven’t done it already, start talking to your friends about creating a roundtable submission today. The deadline is November 1, 11:59 p.m.