17 October 2009

Some Cotton Mather for a Friday Afternoon Undergraduate Research Conference

Yesterday was our annual English Department Undergraduate Research conference (the brainchild and labor of love of our Chaucerian Professor Candace Barrington), and in Chairman's welcome, I offered the following quotation from the good Reverend Mather:

"I would by all possible Insinuations gain this Point upon [the students], that for them to learn all the brave Things in the world, is the bravest Thing in the world. I am not fond of proposing Play to them, as a reward of any diligent Application to learn what is good; lest they should think that Diversion to be a better and nobler thing than Diligence."

"Some Special Points, Relating to the Education of My Children"
February 1705/06
The Diary of Cotton Mather Volume I. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing, Co., 1911.

My point to them was simply this: as reward for their hard work (i.e., most of these presentations sprang from papers and projects done in literature, linguistics, and writing classes in the Spring '09 semester) was quite appropriately more work to prepare for this conference. That said, their being there:

1) was indeed a brave thing, and

2) should nevertheless be quite enjoyable.

Their willingness to present their work in front of peers and faculty is a daring act, but, at the same time, they should enjoy the chance to offer their ideas for critique and discussion.

I managed to see two of the six panels, and all six of the presenters did very well and, if their smiles during and after their talks were any indication, seemed to enjoy it!

Call this another SUCCESS, Professor B.!

No comments:

Post a Comment