conference call paper

Context: Congratulations! Your proposal was accepted and you earned a spot to speak at the conference. Now you have to write the paper that you will read. Typically scholars read prepared remarks at conferences that are typed in a genre called a conference paper. Scholars typically get about 10 minutes to speak, which means that the conference paper should be about 1000-1500 words long. (One double spaced page often equals two minutes of speaking time.)

Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to familiarize you with another genre of academic writing: the conference paper. By writing a conference paper, I hope you learn how to answer your question and present it in a report that effectively communicates your ideas to other scholars. Writing for a presentation is a transferable skill for most jobs, and conferences are important in many professional fields. I also hope you build confidence by answering your question and thus making a new contribution to our knowledge about world humanities.

Advice: Successful conference papers can take different forms. But many strong conference papers will have these features in common:

  • Signal early on what your intentions with the paper are. Map out the argument so your audience can get a sense of what is to come.
  • Write a data-driven essay. If you are an anthropologist, load it up with ethnographic material. If you are a historian or literature scholar, delve into the primary texts. This will give your discussant a better chance at assessing your analytical points. If you mire your argument in theoretical gobbledegook that you don’t command especially well, it will be frustrating for listeners.
  • Most importantly, you only have time in a presentation to develop ONE maybe two points. In any case, no one will remember more than two points, so keep it tight. It is always more effective to go in depth into one particular aspect of your research than try to sketch together myriad pieces in one whirlwind showcase.

Length: 1000 interesting words for a C; 1250 for a B; 1500 for an A

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