UP to host 15th annual 'NUCL' literary conference Saturday

By Claire Desmarais | March 22, 2018 1:48pm

Caroline Holyoak is an intern for the Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature (NUCL). Every year UP hosts NUCL allowing students to submit and possibly present scholarly papers and creative works in panels of their peers.
by Molly Lowney / The Beacon

Inspired by his school-aged daughter who asked why there are so many science fairs but no literature fairs, Herman Asarnow, an English Professor at the University of Portland, founded the Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature (NUCL) in 2004. Over the last 15 years, the UP English Department, College of Arts and Sciences, Office of Admissions and the Provost’s Office have built NUCL into a nationally known conference. 

“Students from the Pacific Northwest and beyond come to present their creative and critical works,” said Caroline Holyoak, a junior English and Spanish major. 

With over 15 universities, three high schools and well over 50 students, the University of Portland will host the NUCL on Saturday, Mar. 24. Students from all over the United States will travel to campus to listen to those applicants selected to present their literary pieces of work. 

On the Quiet Side of the Commons, Kenneth Warren, a professor of English from the University of Chicago will be the keynote speaker featured during the conference. His presentation, focused on African American literature, will answer the question: "Does Literature Change Anything?" 

The program has two sessions, and divides the work of all the students into different topics depending on the content of the students’ work which will be presented in Franz Hall. Some of these topics include: "Narratives of Seduction and Repression", "Down With the Patriarchy!", "Feminist Visions" and "Poetic Matters of the Heart". There are about 10 other topics with multiple students presenting on each one. 

The Beacon talked with Caroline Holyoak, an English and Spanish major, who is one of the many students selected to present her essay at NUCL. The conference, both the sessions and the keynote speaker, is open to anyone to attend. More information about the conference times and presenters can be found in the NUCL 2018 program.

Q&A With Caroline Holyoak:

What will happen the day of the conference?

“On the day of the conference, we host a number of themed panels, where 3-4 students read aloud their critical writing on literature or their poetry or creative essays. These panels are each followed by a question-and-answer discussion, which usually provokes really interesting conversation!”

What is your essay featured in the conference about?

“My paper is called What a wall!': Culture and Social Rigidity in Jude the Obscure. The paper focuses on a 19th century novel, Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure, which tells the story of an ambitious working-class man named Jude who tries to gain an education and rise in status, falling in love with his cousin and encountering various other struggles along the way. 

My essay specifically deals with the way that the idea of "culture" seems to present a means to social mobility for Jude, but ultimately the class structure is too rigid to allow him to rise above his status as a working-class man.”

What has your involvement been with NUCL?

“Well this year, I'm one of three NUCL interns, meaning I work with the two other interns and two professors (Drs. Hiro and Swidzinski) to organize the conference.”

The two other interns helping with the conference are Kelley McCaffery and Kyle Sparrman.

What do you do as an intern?

“We work to reach out to faculty and students, get submissions, help pick acceptances, and carry out the details on the day of the conference. I'll also be presenting a paper at the conference this year, as well as serving as a respondent to one of the panels (meaning I'll be helping to lead the discussion).”

What is it that makes the day of the conference great?

It's a beautiful day for word-lovers to get together and talk about important, interesting topics. We'll also have Kenneth Warren as a keynote speaker, delivering an exciting talk called "Does Literature Change Anything? Lessons from African American Literature."