Students break out of Bethel bubble by presenting at intercollegiate research conference

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As Bethel’s students begin to turn in projects, study for tests and turn in final papers, there are four students whose papers are going beyond Bethel’s campus. Spencer French, Susan Miley, Eva Hornikel and Kaitlyn Zimmerman have been working on philosophy and literary criticism papers over the past few weeks. These papers are special because they are going to be presented this weekend at Purdue-Northwestern in Hammond, Indiana, at the Clement S. Stacy Memorial Undergraduate Research Conference.

I talked with Susie Miley, a sophomore English and philosophy double major. Miley wrote her paper for specifically one class, the Literary Genres: Bildungsroman course. This class covers novels dealing with formative years of a person’s life, or the spiritual education of a person. It was offered in the fall of the 2017 semester by Robby Prenkert.

Miley’s paper focused on main characters in Charles Dickens’ novel “Great Expectations.” She chose to examine how these characters are being transformed by experience in the novel. “When I was encouraged to apply to the conference by some peers and faculty, I realized that this paper might be really interesting to submit,” Miley said. “The paper is called “Great Expectations: An Analysis of Bildungsroman.”” Miley said that she was hesitant to submit at first. “Originally, I received an email from a professor over Christmas break about the conference,” she said. “However, it was not until the day before the application was due that a peer told me I should submit. In addition, a few beloved faculty encouraged me that night. So, I wrote I applied exactly on the deadline; thus, I was both shocked and honored to be accepted.” Robby Prenkert, an English Literature professor here at Bethel and the professor of the Bildungsroman class, is encouraged to see these students go beyond the Bethel Bubble. “We think it is good for Bethel students to have an opportunity to share their research and writing with the broader academic community,” he said. “This conference, designed for undergraduates, affords them the chance to present and publish their work outside Bethel. These four have prepared excellent and interesting presentations they should be proud of.” The students will not only be presenting but participating as well. On Friday they will attend other students’ presentations and then be given a chance to respond. The same will be done for them; after their presentation faculty and students will be allowed to ask questions on the papers presented. Later they will be given time to talk with other conference participants in a more relaxed setting. They will have time to speak with others in between presentations and learn about their papers. The conference takes place April 20-21 on the campus of Purdue University Northwest. (Photo by Andisheh A on Unsplash)
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