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Mount Saint Mary’s University graduate students Jessica Record and Lauren Buisson after their presentations at the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs conference in Portland.

National Conference Presentations Highlight Success of Mount's Humanities Program

Nov. 19, 2012 -- In the spring, Mount Saint Mary’s University graduate students Lauren Buisson ’13, and Jessica Record ’13, developed papers for a Master of Arts-level Humanities class titled: “Illustrating History and the World: The Graphic Novel/Reportage.”

Buisson’s paper explored how graphic novels have depicted traumas associated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Record’s paper compared Mexican pictographs from the 1500s to iconic modern comics, and discovered distinct examples of sequential art forms in each.

The students’ work paid off. This fall, Buisson and Record became the first Mount St. Mary’s students to present at the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs’ (AGLSP) annual conference. The annual meeting was held in Portland in October with the theme: “The Crisis of the Book: Worlds of Opportunity, Worlds of Change.”

“The AGLSP conference was the first academic conference I had attended, and the first conference where I’ve presented,” says Record. “It was an exciting experience.”

Record and Buisson practiced their presentations in a pair of rehearsals before their colleagues in the College’s Humanities program, and received feedback from classmates and faculty.

“The Mount’s Humanities program fosters camaraderie,” Buisson says. “I feel really lucky in that respect. The constructive criticism from those rehearsals helped us immensely.

“What made this conference so different from ones I’ve attended before was its size and scope. Dartmouth, Stanford, Duke, Reed College were just some of the participating institutions. But we were very pleasantly surprised by the size and attentiveness of our audience. Our Q&A went the full 30 minutes and was a really robust exchange of ideas. I left this conference feeling intellectually invigorated.”

Academic Contributors

“Students often think of themselves as consumers of information,” says Millie Kidd, director of the Master of Arts in Humanities program at Mount St. Mary’s. “But they can be contributors of information, too. As you learn, you can teach. You have the ability and the knowledge to give back.”

The College’s students weren’t the only Mount St. Mary’s presenters giving back at the AGLSP conference. Because of the Mount’s innovative reputation in preparing students for interdisciplinary graduate work, Kidd was asked to deliver a panel presentation on “Making the Transition to Graduate School.”

Conference attendees also received a copy of the fall 2012 issue of Confluence, the AGLSP’s national journal that publishes the best scholarly and creative work of graduate liberal studies programs. The issue contained a pair of short stories by the Mount’s own Joan Eyles Johnson, an English instructor who teaches in the College’s Master of Arts in Humanities program, its undergraduate program and the Weekend College.

Johnson has had short stories and poems published in literary journals and specialty magazine, and some of her 30-plus plays have been produced off-Broadway and on National Public Radio.

“I was surprised and honored to be represented in Confluence because it tells me my stories have something for all segments of society,” Johnson says.

“How the two stories in Confluence came about is impossible to tell. Some spark, a bit of conversation, something overheard in a restaurant. Almost anything can startle my imagination!”

Johnson’s entries in the journal are titled “Flight” and “The Glass Bead.”

Buisson’s student presentation was titled “No Exit: The Trauma of Occupation in Israeli Graphic Narratives.” Record delivered her speech on “Mexican Pictographs as Early Comics and their Influence on Modern Comics.”

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