UH Hilo students present their work at international English studies conference held on campus

It was a great opportunity for students to present their work alongside English studies scholars from Hawai‘i, Japan, Poland, Italy, and the Philippines. All participants had the chance to network with each other and discuss topics of common interest.

Evangeline Lemieux pictured
Evangeline Lemieux

By Evangeline Lemieux.

Editor’s note: The author of this story, an English major at UH Hilo, also presented her work at this conference. Her presentation, “I Can’t Extract Myself From Having Come: Extractive Capitalism, Heimweh, and Atlantic Canadian Culture in Kate Beaton’s Ducks,” on the 2022 graphic memoir Ducks by Kate Beaton, explored migrant narratives through the lens of Atlantic Canadian migration in the oil sands as well as the intersection of misogyny and culture in a male-dominated work environment. 

Educators and students from around the world gathered March 10-11 at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo for the 2nd annual Hawai‘i-International Conference on English Language and Literature Studies. This year’s theme was “Research and Teaching in English Language and Literature.”

Presenters came from a variety of nations including Japan, Poland, Italy, and the Philippines, and the conference gave them a chance to network and discuss topics of common interest. The scholars shared their expertise with peers and students, including topics on new trends in research and teaching. The conference was attended by students, faculty, and community members as well as visiting academics.

The conference also provided several UH Hilo English majors with an applied learning opportunity to present their own research papers.

Kyla-Marie Turner pictured
Kyla-Marie Turner

“The environment was very professional, as well as very welcoming,” says Kyla-Marie Turner, a senior who is double majoring in English and anthropology. Turner presented her work, “Looking Past the Covers: Exploring the Three Subtypes of Hawai‘i’s Literature,” which focuses on the effects of this literature outside the literary world.

“To be able to not only present my work on the subtypes of literature in Hawaiʻi, but to also learn about the amazing research and studies being done on language acquisition, [multiculturalism and multilingualism education], among other topics, was very eye-opening,” she says.

Turner was nervous about presenting her work, but used the challenge as an opportunity to grow her confidence and take seriously what she has learned and created academically.

“Up until my presentation, I wasnʻt sure if my presentation or paper was worthy enough to be presented among all of these educators,” she says. “But after my presentation session was done, I had different educators and participants emailing me, asking me questions, and congratulating on the quality of my work. That solidified for me that I am knowledgeable, and that I do have quality work. [The experience] has encouraged me to continue creating quality academic work.”

Turner also attended several sessions on topics related to literary studies, which is her focus, as well as education and English studies. She enjoyed the variety of topics, saying that the conference showed her “an avenue for learning and teaching in a broader sense, and in a place that can happen outside of the classroom.”

Elena “Lennie” Espinoza pictured
Elena “Lennie” Espinoza

Elena “Lennie” Espinoza, an English major who is earning their Teaching English as a Second Language certificate, presented their paper entitled “The Knowledge of the Past,” which focuses on the role of mythology in Indigenous education prior to Western contact. Espinoza analyzed the Lakota legend of White Buffalo Woman and the potential of legends in Indigenous classrooms as tools for the decolonization process.

Espinoza enjoyed the interactive panels and opportunities for group discussion.

“I felt very engaged as a listener and attendee,” she says. “It felt like a collaborative space, and I could tell that everyone there was engaged with the topics being discussed. I really enjoyed the Q&A sections of each presentation, and even asked the first question of the day during a speaker’s Q&A. I felt like questions and conversation specifically were encouraged and supported.”

Espinoza appreciated the relaxed atmosphere and pace that allowed time to set up ensure the presentation went well. “I felt attended to and I liked the overall setup. It was a really fun and helpful event to be a part of, especially as an undergrad. I was able to learn what academics and educators are doing around the world regarding language and literature. Very inspiring.”

Braden Savage pictured
Braden Savage

Braden Savage, an English major who attended the conference as an audience member, says he “appreciated the opportunity to connect with scholars from both around the country and around the world.”

The conference also featured presentations by UH Hilo faculty and community members, and sessions were chaired by student and community volunteers. For both presenters and audience members, the conference presented great opportunities to connect, learn, and network.

The next Hawai‘i-International Conference on English Language and Literature Studies conference will be hosted in Davao City in the Philippines in spring of 2024.

The author of this story, Evangeline Lemieux, is double majoring in English and medical anthropology at UH Hilo.

Share this story