Last weekend, the English Department at Mount Saint Vincent University welcomed students and faculty from eleven universities across the east coast for the Annual Atlantic Undergraduate English Conference (AAUEC), which showcases the academic papers and creative works of the region’s top English students. Founded here in 1981, this was the sixth time that the Mount has hosted the conference. Co-organized by Dr. Reina Green and Dr. Diane Piccitto along with conference assistants Katie O’Brien, Hope Tohme, and Sam VanNorden, the AAUEC 2018 was a resounding success!
The conference began on Friday, March 2, in Seton Academic Centre with a Welcome Reception, where attendees participated in a lively round of icebreaker bingo – facilitated by English Society co-presidents Katie O’Brien and Hope Tohme – and heard a presentation by Formac Publishing to announce “Write to Win!” – a writing competition aimed at Atlantic Canadians 18-30 years old.
The afternoon included the first panel of the conference and was followed by ArtFest, held in the MSVU Art Gallery. Emceed by Alexia Major and Sam VanNordon (co-editors, with other MSVU students, of the Speakman Press), ArtFest featured short stories and poetry of participants and the work of special guests El Jones (MSVU’s Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies and poet and activist) and Chantelle Rideout (writer and MSVU English alumna), as well as a welcome address by Dr. Elizabeth Church (MSVU’s Vice-President Academic and Provost).
Day 2 – Saturday, March 3, was held in the Margaret Norrie McCain Centre, giving visitors a chance to spend time in the only building at a Canadian university to celebrate the achievements of women, highlighted in the Women’s Wall of Honour. The second day included four panels, covering topics such as ethics, bodies, politics, and trauma, and even involved one presenter from the Mount, Michelle Russell, Skyping in from Florida where she is training with the Canadian paddling team.
The afternoon ended in the Atrium with the Bad Poetry Reading, which was first begun by Dr. Chris Ferns (Professor Emeritus) in his days as an undergraduate and then initiated at the Mount in the 1980s, having since become an institution in the English Department. Dr. Ferns selected among the very worst poems written by published authors and emceed the event, charming the audience with his entertaining commentary over the course of the hour. Readers included past and current MSVU English students, faculty members such as Professors Emeritus Dr. Susan Drain and Dr. Peter Schwenger, who performed memorable renditions of “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight” and “The Tay Bridge Disaster,” respectively. Afterward, participants and volunteers celebrated the two-day conference with a closing-night banquet and dance party – with DJ extraordinaire Dr. Steven Bruhm (former MSVU English student and professor) in Rosaria’s Multi-Purpose Room.
The conference was marked by a wonderful energy from beginning to end, creating a stimulating inter-university intellectual community for English students and faculty. See our earlier post here for a list of Mount presenters.
We would like to thank the more than 50 presenters who shared their work at the AAUEC 2018 and the faculty who accompanied students as well as our emcees, guest speakers, and DJ. Thank you also to the President’s Office and the Dean of Arts and Science for their very necessary financial support and to MSVU staff (Catering, Conference Services, Art Gallery, IT Services, Facilities, Communications, Marketing, and Recruitment, Research Office, Book Store, Print Shop, and Security). Finally, a very special thank you to our conference assistants, all of our volunteers, Tracy McDonald (English Department Administrative Assistant), as well as the entire English Department for their instrumental involvement and support over the last several months.