Within the MA programme, students from Medieval to Renaissance, Modernities and Irish Writing and Film organise and present at a mini-conference. This conference, Textualites, took place on Friday the 4th of March and was a great success for all involved. After the adrenaline rush of live tweeting and live blogging the event, it seems like now is an appropriate time to reflect back on the experience.
The most nerve wracking aspect of Textualities was that our papers had to follow the Pecha Kucha presentation style, which consists of twenty slides and twenty seconds per slide. Prior to the mini-conference I was utterly unfamiliar with Pecha Kucha. From both my undergraduate and postgraduate degree, I am generally quite comfortable presenting ideas and public speaking. Yet the notion of being confined to a time limit and creating a image heavy presentation left me slightly terrified. Generally, the MA students present on ideas or theories that relate to their theses. As such, I knew I would present on Shakespearean women in film. Since reading a fascinating article by Carol Chillington Rutter, the representation of women and gender performance within the context of Shakespearean films has enthralled me and I am eager to continue exploring this area.
I titled my presentation “Shakespeare’s Silenced Women; Problems with Performance in a Patriarchal Context” and chose to examine how female silence translates to film. My main focus within the presentation looked at the literary figure Cressida (Troilus and Cressida), Katherine (Henry V), Hero and Beatrice (both from Much Ado About Nothing). I also mentioned Lavinia (Titus Andronicus), Hermione (A Winter’s Tale) and Desdemona (Othello) when examining and comparing the physical silencing of women. Given Pecha Kucha’s time constraints and the necessity for images, I opted to use Prezi rather than Microsoft PowerPoint. This decision ensured smooth transitions between slides and easy access on the day.
Textualities consisted of six panels of four speakers with time allocated for questions at the end. When we weren’t interrogating our classmates or drinking vast amounts of caffeine, the class interacted with one another on Twitter. My main task within the organisation of Textualites was running the official Twitter account. What initially seemed like a straightforward task soon revealed some challenges. Firstly, each panel needed to be live tweeted. I also needed to strive for a balance between engaging and informative tweets, all in a one hundred and forty character limit. There was also the fact that I would not be able to tweet my own panel nor the panel I chaired. Splitting the task with my peer Emilio, we successfully kept the Twitterverse up to date with all the presentations. #Textualities16 even began to trend in the Cork area by the end of the day!
The entire experience was initially daunting but extremely worthwhile. It has left me feeling confident in my own academic capabilities and I am certainly looking forward to my next conference experience.