Conference Paper proposals- advice, anyone?

Firstly, I just sent in my itty-bitty topic statement for the English Department Honours Conference next month, to whit:

Perception and Power in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
An analysis of power relationships through verbs of perception and cognition, which highlights Gawain’s failure as a hero, and complements existing theoretical interpretations.

Doesn’t that just sound fantastic?

Secondly, sometime soon I need to submit a paper proposal if I want to present at the Australian Early Medieval Association Conference in October, but I’ve never even *seen* a paper proposal before. Anyone got really useful tips on putting them together?


3 Responses to “Conference Paper proposals- advice, anyone?”

  1. Jonathan Jarrett Says:

    Hmm, I’d do something with that verb `complements’, it suggests you’re not really challenging anything. But as to the main question, what I do (NB this may not be what real academics do) is try and write something to a friend explaining what the paper’s about, so as to make sure I know, then do it again in academese, and then cut till it fits the word limit. I do find that being able to explain it in laymen’s terms first really helps with the comprehensibility of the final version.

    If you want a successful one, albeit well off your field, here’s the text that got shrunk down into this year’s Leeds abstract:

    Though monastic archives preserved most of our surviving charters, these archives’ contents sometimes include documents that predate the existence of the host monastery. This paper will explore this preservation in Carolingian-period Catalonia, and in better-known cases from further north, and make suggestions about the way that such archives were gathered.

    For what use it may be…

  2. highlyeccentric Says:

    I dithered over the word complements, but at the end, that’s what i’m doing… I’m not challenging anything, I’m providing a new angle of analysis which backs up existing interpretations. *shrug* anyway, that one went in last night, so not much I can do.

    And thanks for the example!

  3. B. Hawk Says:

    I largely agree with Jonathan. It depends mostly on the audience (whether it’s a general academic conference, a literature conference, or a specifically medieval studies conference) how I word the abstract, but aiming its wording for those who might be unfamiliar with the concept is the best idea. Also, word count is a big thing: how much can you squeeze in about your methodological direction, or are you just providing a short thesis?

    Here is my most recent abstract, and here’s another older one–both are aimed generally, since my audience was not specifically medieval studies.

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