By Thomas Gillen
At this year’s annual Honors Conference, the Honors College will be presenting the thesis work of its students on Friday, March 31 from 9 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. The conference will be open to the public and is mandatory for all 227 students in the honors program.
The Honors Conference has been held on and off since 2004 and “is a simulated professional conference that teaches students how to attend an actual academic conference,” Dr. Joan Digby, director of the Honors College, said. “They will have to learn how to make choices among programs and learn how to pay attention. We engage students with interesting subject matter by students and faculty members.”
One of the 18 presentations at this year’s conference will be the showcasing of six student theses by film majors and film program alumni. Those students include Honors College alumni Juliana Hobbs, Tore Hynnekleiv, and Melanie Coffey and current film majors Lucas Riou; Brittany Ramjattan; and Justin Shultz. The only films that are completed are Hobbs’ documentary on “White Nose Bat Syndrome” and Hynnekleiv’s film, “Mom.”
Coffey’s short film “The Left Light Bias,” is “about an art thief who tries to persuade an artist to let her steal his painting at an art gallery opening,” she said. “The idea was to explore what makes a painting important, is it the actual paint on canvas or the amount of money it’s worth, so both characters take a side and debate.” Coffey began researching the topic and writing the script in the spring of 2016 and recently viewed the film in its entirety after editing the film since November.
Besides the showing of the student films, the conference will include a book discussion by Dr. Margaret Hallissy, a professor in the English department, poetry readings by Honors College students Paola Guzman, Ilana Leviton, Adela Ramos, and Randall Taylor, and a poster session, where art majors in the Honors College will show off their theses in the Tilles Center Atrium.
The conference will “introduce students to faculty they may want to study with and to the electives available to them next year,” Digby said. There will be presentations by several faculty members, including Pirating the Past by Dr. Benjamin Gerdes, an assistant professor in the department of communications and film. The presentation delves into the cultural history of piracy and how the element of pirating relates to today’s issues regarding intellectual property and Internet piracy. “Teaching in the Honors College offers teachers an opportunity to teach different courses that are outside-the-box,” Gerdes said. Other presentations include Re-riding History: A Motorcycle Tour of Peru’s Indigenous Heartland by Dr. Willie Hiatt, an associate professor in the history department, and The Horse, My Muse by Digby.
The Honors Conference will take place in several locations on campus, including the Tilles Center, Hillwood Commons, and the B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library and is open to the public.