UH Hilo English department to host international literature conference in March

With an array of contributors and speakers from around the world, the conference will showcase a thriving English language and literature studies community here at UH Hilo and globally.

Profile photos of Maya Khemlani David, Kris Roney, Willy Ardian Renandya, Sydney Villegas, Kirsten Møllegaard, Seri Luangphinith, Richard Day, Stefanie Pillia, and Peter Sayer.
A few of the speakers scheduled for the Second Hawaiʻi International Conference on English Language and Literature Studies conference are, top row from left, Maya Khemlani David (Malaysia), Kris Roney (UH Hilo), Willy Ardian Renandya (Singapore), Sydney Villegas (Lahainaluna High School), and Kirsten Møllegaard (UH Hilo). Bottom row from left, Seri Luangphinith (UH Hilo), Richard Day (UH Mānoa), Stefanie Pillia (Malaysia), and Peter Sayer (Ohio State University).

By Evangeline Lemieux.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Department of English will host the Second Hawaiʻi International Conference on English Language and Literature Studies (HICELLS 2023), March 10-11, 2023. After a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic, the conference will be presented in a hybrid format with both online and in-person venues.

This year’s theme is “Research and Teaching in English Language and Literature.” Scholars from around the world will share their expertise with peers and students, including topics on new trends in research and teaching. The conference also provides UH Hilo English majors with an applied learning opportunity to present their own research papers.

List of topics: Applied Linguistics, English Language Curriculum, Cross-Cultural comms, Discourse, Language and Globalization, Language and Media, Leanring, Testing, Translations, Psychology, Technology, Linguistics, etc

Co-hosts of the event are San Pedro College and Holy Cross of Davao College, both located in the Philippines, and the Hawai‘i Association of Filipino Educators.

With an international array of contributors and speakers, the conference will showcase a thriving English language and literature studies community here at UH Hilo and globally. The event is an especially valuable opportunity for students to learn about sub-disciplines within English studies and literature, regardless of what their major may be.

Francis Dumanig pictured
Francis Dumanig

The conference is the brainchild of Francis Dumanig, an assistant professor of English who is chair of the organizing committee for the 2023 event.

“During my first year of teaching at UH Hilo, I noticed that only few international conferences were organized on campus,” explains Dumanig. “For faculty and students to present their studies they have to travel to other islands, states, or countries. (But) traveling to other places to present is expensive, and it limits the number of faculty and students to participate.

“I thought that organizing an international conference particularly in English language studies and literature would give our faculty and students opportunities to participate for free,” he says.

Dumanig explains that the mission of the conference is to make UH Hilo a place to gather international scholars in the fields of English language teaching and literature studies to share their scholarly works and discuss among themselves the new trends in research and pedagogy in English language and literature.

In addition, he says, “the event communicates to an international community that the UH Hilo English department is taking the lead in enhancing research and teaching in English language and literature studies.”

Dumanig says he is very grateful to the UH Hilo Department of English for the support he has received to organize this conference.

“Many of our faculty members in the English department are members of the (organizing) committee and the rest are from our partner universities in Oman and the Philippines,” he says. “The committee plans the conference for at least one year (ahead) so we reach participants coming from different states and countries.

To cover all bases, different subcommittees were tasked to organize things both before and during the conference. The group also asked students in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate program to assist during the conference.

“Organizing an international conference is really taxing, and you need helpful and supportive people to make the conference a reality,” says Dumanig. “This year is our second international conference and all committee members are very helpful and supportive.”

Registration fees waived

In order to increase access to the conference, especially for students, registration fees are waived for up to 50 UH Hilo students and faculty.

Kirsten Mollegard pictured
Kirsten Møllegaard

“Francis recognizes the value of offering UH Hilo students the opportunity to present in a professional venue and has generously waived the registration fee for students,” says Kirsten Møllegaard, a professor of English at UH Hilo who also serves on the planning committee for the event and will be a featured speaker at the conference.

“(This) is a golden conference opportunity for UH Hilo students,” Møllegaard adds. “It provides them with a professional, international academic platform for presenting their analytical, argumentative research papers. It is a marvelous opportunity for students to gain conference presentation experience without having to leave the island.”


Speakers at the conference hail from the U.S. states of Virginia, Ohio, Utah, Hawai‘i, Florida, Maryland, Iowa, Texas, New York, California, Arizona, Kansas, and Michigan, and the countries Japan, Philippines, Austria, Hongkong China, Korea, Nepal, Oman, Colombia, India, Nigeria, Canada, Poland, Malaysia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand.

Keynote speakers are Richard Day, professor of second language studies at UH Mānoa and an expert in second language reading, and Peter Sayer, professor of language education studies at Ohio State University whose work focuses on educational sociolinguistics.

Plenary speakers are Kris Roney, vice chancellor for academic affairs at UH Hilo, Willy Renandya, a language educator with extensive teaching experience in Asia, and Seri Luangphinith, a professor of English at UH Hilo.

In addition to Prof. Møllegaard, other invited presenters showcasing their knowledge and expertise at the conference are Stefanie Shamila Pillai, professor of languages and linguistics, and Maya Khemlani David, professor emeritus of sociolinguistics, both from Universiti Malaya; and Sydney Villegas, an English teacher at Lahainaluna High School on Maui.

There are also additional presenters for parallel sessions.

Still plenty of time to sign up!

Dumanig says there is still time for both students and faculty who are interested in presenting their work to submit an abstract for consideration.

Anyone with questions about attending or presenting can contact Assistant Professor Dumanig directly.

By Evangeline Lemieux, who is double majoring in English and medical anthropology at UH Hilo. Susan Enright, editor of UH Hilo Stories, contributed.

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