On March 30th, eight art history graduate students presented their original research in the 29th annual Robyn Rafferty Mathias Student Research Conference. Second year M.A. student Katherine Ruckle won Best Oral Presentation in the Arts and Humanities by a Graduate Student with her talk “St. Wilgefortis: Considering Modern and Medieval Hirsute Audiences.”
We spoke with four first year M.A. students, Caitlyn Carr, Mike Quituisaca, Hannah Southern, and Hoyon Mephokee, to discuss their experience presenting research in a formal setting and get some tips for students considering participating next year.
Caitlyn enjoyed listening to the research her cohort and fellow CAS students completed this past year. Caitlyn mentioned how little she gets to hear about her fellow student’s research. “I wish we got to do that more often.” Hoyon and Hannah agreed. “As art history graduate students, we don’t often get the opportunity to hear about research happening across CAS. It was fun to look at research posters from fields I know nothing about,” said Hannah. Mike presented his talk “Edward Hopper in the Atomic Age” in a Cold War panel, with students in history and literary studies. Caitlyn and Hoyon both attended this panel, and enjoyed hearing presentations from different disciplines.
Mike appreciated having a forum to share his research with his non-art history friends. “My favorite part of the conference was getting to present my research to my friends outside of the AU community. A lot of them know that I study art history, but the conference was my chance to show them how I apply my studies to an artist they are familiar with.”
For students interested in participating next year, everyone’s consensus is “just do it!” Caitlyn suggests “starting with a paper which you believe you can easily turn into a 10 minute presentation.” Her talk, “Manet’s Pétroleuse” began as a research paper for her Women in the Avant-Garde class in the fall semester. “Prepping for the conference was a great opportunity to learn how to deliver my ideas in a concise manner,” Mike agrees.
His experience, “A Crisis of Empire: Threatened Masculinity in J.W. Waterhouse’s Hylas and the Nymphs (1896),” Hoyon gives some great tips for presenting. “Be prepared for anything! Have an extra copy of your presentation, have your slides backed up somewhere, and bring water in case your body decides to develop a weird cough days before the presentation.”
Photography credit: Kathryn Heine and Dr. Nika Elder