By Dominika Koziol
After three events of its kind, the Faculty/Student Research Forum is a new mainstay in the English department. Chair of the Department of Literature and Languages Larry Howe and English major Dominic Segatti were the most recent presenters to share their scholarly work in film studies with the university community.
Howe shared information about his most recent publication, “Refocusing Chaplin: a Screen Icon through Critical Lenses,” to which he contributed and co-edited. Segatti spoke about the connections between Italian Neo-Realist film and Iranian cinema.
In regards to why he took advantage of the opportunity to present with a faculty member, Segatti said, “I thought this would be a great opportunity to further myself in our school’s film and English communities. It’s a great way to get experience talking about the things you love in front of people, which is something we’ll all have to do someday in some sort of capacity.”
He described the presentation as a positive experience.
“I was nervous presenting in front of a lot of my teachers, but they were all very accepting, and kind and even interested,” he said. “The great thing was having people approach me afterwards and ask me more questions about the films. For many, this was their first venture into foreign film, and I am glad to be a carriage to that.”
Conversations about creating faculty/student presentation pairings began in the English department a couple years ago, and the first one took place last spring.
Faculty members with recently published work volunteered and then sought out students who would make appropriate pairings. Associate Professor of English and Film Studies Janet Wondra was the first faculty member to volunteer to share her work, a piece of creative non-fiction that had been published in the Connecticut Review. Her co-presenter, student Tovah Burstein, spoke about the creative non-fiction genre.
Regina Buccola and her student co-presenter, Alicia Fedro, were part of the second event, and they presented on their work with Shakespeare. Each faculty/student pairing shares a common theme, and in the case of Howe and Segatti, the connection was film.
According to Segatti, “Film is often an overlooked academic field, so it was nice to have a spotlight on the rising film minor where we could present the work coming out of this new department.”
Wondra also spoke positively about her presentation experience, saying that she enjoyed it. The faculty member said that this type of presentation is a good opportunity for students planning to go into academic life.
“It’s an opportunity to prepare a presentation and understand what if feels like to present to an audience,” she said. “We are all, in our lifetimes, going to do some kind of public speaking. It’s good to have done it, and reflect on the experience so you can get stronger.”
Wondra also commented on the way these presentations show the continuity between students’ work and faculty research.
“Both for the audience and the student presenter, it enhances their understanding of what we do as faculty members and why we do it,” Wondra said.
She added that faculty members improve their scholarly work by “talking with others, sharing with others [and] improving the quality of your thought as a result. We’re trying to acknowledge and promote the idea that people work collaboratively.”
The presentation to the university community is one form this sharing and exchange of ideas can take. Wondra pointed out that the peer review sessions that take place in the classroom are a “microcosm” of this academic process.
Faculty/Student Research Forums will continue in the future, and there is even tentative talk of creating a student panel presentation to showcase students’ scholarly work.
Wondra encouraged students to attend these future events.
“Come and see what your fellow students are doing,” she said. “Support your fellow students. Think if this something you might be interested in doing before you leave the university. And there are refreshments.”