Christie Leonard


Senior English major Christie Leonard received a VURF travel grant to present her research at the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Conference 2017 in Philadelphia.

On Christie's conference experience:

The atmosphere of the INCS conference was inviting and inquisitive. It was great to have the chance to meet so many other people who share my interest for nineteenth-century studies. One of my favorite things about my experience at the conference was the potential for hearing new perspectives from a variety of professors and graduate students in different disciplines (from English literature) from all over the country, and a few from other parts of the world. I met a PhD student from Australia who studies Australian and New Zealand literature along with women’s suffrage in nineteenth-century Australia. Previously, I had never thought about Australian and New Zealand literature at all. The conference brings together all types of scholars, and this exposure to new and different perspectives has encouraged me to think more broadly about not only the literature of other countries, but also the people who study and analyze that literature and their unique cultural perspectives.

I attended a fascinating panel on nineteenth-century reactions in art and literature to the burgeoning field of evolutionary theory. One panelist discussed readings of Bertha Rochester in terms of Darwinian fitness, another spoke about avant-garde art and French artistic responses to syphilis and its racial hierarchy connections, and the final panelist spoke about marine atavism and evolutionary theory in French literature. It was interesting to learn about research in other areas outside of English and see how English critical skills still factor in to these types of arguments or in analyzing effects of scientific change on the culture. The undergraduate panel of which I was apart went very well. I was nervous, worried I’d oversleep, and as a result hardly slept the night before, but my panel presentation went very well. Many of the questions addressed to me and to my fellow undergraduate panelists have encouraged me to explore new avenues of research. At the end, I picked up some CFPs on the registration table. My next academic step is graduate school, and the promise of future conferences and opportunities to meet and share research with others in my field is exciting. After being submerged in this conference, I feel inspired to plan and begin new research projects in this field for the start of my Master’s program in the fall.