Tips for Writing an Effective Abstract

The British Graduate Shakespeare Conference offers many postgraduate students their first opportunity to present an academic paper. This can be simultaneously exciting and daunting, so we’d like to offer up some tools and resources that might help you to prepare for your first conference presentation.

As is standard with most conferences, the first step to presenting at BritGrad is submitting an abstract. Writing an abstract for the first time can be a challenging task, as it requires you to clearly and concisely present your research with a certain degree of specificity whilst adhering to a limited word count. (In this case, it’s 200 words.)

The following points can help guide you in figuring out the most important areas of your chosen topic to discuss in your abstract:

  • Subject – What are you writing about?
  • Purpose/Aim/Objective – Why write about it?
  • Nature of Field and Contribution – What else is written on this subject? Is your paper related to a larger field of study? How are in interacting with existing scholarship and discourse?
  • Evidence – What sources/textual references do you use to support your argument? Is there anything unique about the nature of this evidence?
  • Approach – What is the angle? What might be unique about the research you’ve done or the evidence you provide?
  • Argument – What is your overall claim or main argument?
  • Conclusions – What conclusions do you make? Are there areas still open for exploration on this subject?

Remember that these points are guidelines and are not intended to be followed in a particular order. They can be rearranged and combined as you see fit.

Need some examples? Curious to see what other students have presented at BritGrad? Click here to see programmes from past years which contain a variety of abstracts written by past presenters.

Don’t forget that the deadline for abstracts is 23:59 GMT on 21 March 2017. We look forward to reading your abstract. Good luck, and happy writing!

BritGrad 2017: Call For Papers

shakespeare-institute

1-3 June 2017

The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham

Now that we are speeding towards the end of January, we are very excited to announce our own CFP! We have updated our Call for Papers page with all the information you will need for 2017 and you can also find the link right here.

As with last year, due to to the limited amount of space and time slots in which to include all those who desire to submit abstracts, we have separated the registration and abstract submission processes. This means all of you who wish to submit a 200-word abstract should do so first before registering once we have replied to you. Once we have responded to your submission, registration opens for delegates and auditors on April 1st. More information regarding dates and deadlines can be found here .

Please get in touch if you have any further questions or queries – we’re here to help.

~ The BritGrad Committee

 

Meet our new committee!

As we storm through January, it’s time to look forward to BritGrad 2017. This year’s committee have been working away behind the scenes to set everything in motion, so we thought it’s time for a round of introductions. At the Shakespeare Institute, we appreciate that you can tell a lot about a person from what they like about Shakespeare. So we tasked our wonderful committee to tell us their favourite Shakespeare play and why they are looking forward to BritGrad…

Co-chairs: Elizabeth Jeffery and Karen Harker 

14567964_10157439505150304_6601891892576526607_n

This is our co-chair Elizabeth’s second time serving on the committee, so what’s her favourite thing about BritGrad?

One of the great things I love about BritGrad is that the conference brings a lot of academics together from very different backgrounds. It’s a great opportunity to have some very stimulating conversations and the energy brought by all the participants is electric. I can’t wait share that experience again.

And the tough question: what is her favourite Shakespeare play?

Much Ado About Nothing is my favourite. It cracks me up every time, no matter how many times I see it.

kk

Karen is currently a PhD student here at the Institute, after completing her MA in 2015. She told us about her favourite Shakespeare play:

My favorite play is King Lear, although Twelfth Night comes as a close second. King Lear is complex, both textually and in regards to its performativity. The questions of which text to use, how to stage particular scenes, and the characterization of the Fool mean that performances across history are varied, and even in modern contexts, generate interesting and often heated debate. A myriad of adaptations have reinterpreted and appropriated the text and characters in extremely interesting and thought-provoking ways. On a personal level, I have always loved the character of Kent, who gives my favorite quote from all of Shakespeare in the first act: “See better.”

Secretary: Corinne Furness

cfphoto.png

Corinne is a PhD student at the Institute and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She told us why As You Like It is her favourite Shakespeare play:

I’m a nightmare list maker when it comes to favourite plays (I want to choose one from each category!) but if forced to choose on pain of death I would say As You Like It, because the ability to write joy is massively underrated. As You is a world where the characters revel in joy (with the notable exception of Jacques who, of course, revels in sadness) and maybe in 2017 a dose of a world of joy and possibility is exactly what we need!

Co-registrars: Martin Higgins and Philippa Vandome

dsc_1433

After a BA in English Literature and Philosophy, Martin is currently undertaking an  MA in Shakespeare Studies.  We asked him what he is looking forward to about this year’s BritGrad and, of course, his favourite Shakespeare play…

BritGrad will be my first academic conference as a postgraduate, so I’m really looking forward to participating. My favourite Shakespeare play is Coriolanus because I think it’s the most dramatically effective Roman play and a very provocative tragedy. 

 

dsc_1434

Philippa is studying for an MA in Shakespeare and Theatre, but what’s her favourite Shakespeare play?

If had to choose I think I would go for Much Ado About Nothing, because I simply love Beatrice and wish I was her!

Treasurer: Kelsey Ridge 

headshot

Kelsey Ridge is currently working towards her Ph.D. at the Shakespeare Institute. We asked Kelsey for her favourite Shakespeare play:

While there’s nothing quite like Macbeth, my favourite Shakespeare play is Cymbeline, because for me it’s kind of like a ‘Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits’ album.

Publicity: Beth Sharrock

 

britgrad

Beth is studying an MA in Shakespeare Studies. Her favourite Shakespeare play? And what is she looking forward to about this year’s BritGrad conference?

I can never quite decide but I keep coming back to write about Titus Andronicus. I’m really interested in the effect of spectacle and in embodiment, and I think Titus speaks for itself on those two counts. This is my first BritGrad conference and I’m very excited to talk with attendants and find out what is occupying everyone’s attention around Shakespeare at the moment. 

It/Tech: Jennifer Waghorn

P1140953

This is Jennifer’s third time on the BritGrad committee, which she has managed to fit around a PhD at the Shakespeare Institute. Jen told us about her favourite Shakespeare play:

My favourite play, for this week at least, is The Tempest. I’ve gradually come to love it over the past few months: because the backstory and resolution are so rich, because the structure works so well, because the possibilities for setting and for relationships for the main four characters are endless, because Shakespeare does something thoroughly unprecedented and very exciting with theatre music, and because of Ariel. And the best thing about BritGrad is an overwhelming sense of being welcomed into an academic community, by your peers and by the plenaries who are willing to share their time and experience with you. It’s a great confidence boost if you’re an emerging academic

Party Planner and Catering: Andrea Moon

andrea

Andrea is currently studying an MA in Shakespeare and Education. We asked Andrea for her favourite Shakespeare play:

My favourite play is Hamlet. I love the intensity of the scenes, the hectic creativity of Hamlet, actions and words, and then the performative possibilities and how the play always carries humorous charm despite being a tragedy. Its a kaleidoscope of emotions when you watch it.

If you’d like to know about the research interests and academic track records of this year’s BritGrad committee, you can read more here.

 

 

Post-Conference Wrap Up

Thank you all for attending BritGrad 2016! What an amazing three days full of stimulating conversations, inspiring perspectives, and new connections (and, we hope, friendships). We heard papers on nicknames, philosophy, translation, adaptation, Star Wars, rhetoric and linguistics, Dekker, Jonson, gesture, queer theory, theatre practice, stage design, witches, and a great deal more. The caliber of both the papers presented and the questions asked in each panel were really excellent – we hope you enjoyed them as much as we did!

In case you weren’t able to join us, we’ve made a Storify story with a selection of the live-tweets from the conference. If that’s not enough for you (it wasn’t nearly enough for us) and you want a taste of the whole event, head over to our Twitter page, where you’ll be able to see more on student panels and plenary lectures. You can also find photo albums of each day of the conference (plus the party!) on our Facebook page.

Before you get too involved with tweets and photos, here’s a small sampling of #britgrad2016 by the numbers:

Innumerable tweets posted using the conference hashtag

33 Photos tweeted using the conference hashtag

24 Student panels

18 Photos taken by a BritGrad committee member of attendees enjoying our roving selfie booth

12 Carafes each of coffee and tea (which we think shows admirable restraint)

10 Boxes of macaroons for dessert on Day 1

8 Plenary speakers

4 Travel bursaries awarded by the Lizz Ketterer Trust

2 Video presentations

And your 10 committee members are pleased to announce that they’re almost 100% recovered.

Again, thanks for helping to make the Eighteenth BritGrad conference a smashing success – here’s to #britgrad2017!

Welcome to #britgrad2016!

The week we’ve all been waiting for is finally here, and we are very much looking forward to meeting each and every one of you!

With that in mind, the official British Graduate Shakespeare Conference Committee would like to cordially invite you for an informal welcome drink at our local hostelry, The Dirty Duck. From 6pm on Wednesday 1st June we have reserved a small seated area of the pub, on the right-hand side as you enter. We hope that as many of you as possible can make it!

251610_104784459616106_6435946_n385834_171684812926070_1280694399_n

The Duck, as it is called by most locals, can be found on Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6BA, just along from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It is within walking distance of most accommodation, and hosts a variety of affordable food and drink options to suit most tastes. Not only is it one of our favourite locals, but it’s also the hangout for many an RSC actor – keep your eyes peeled for Hamlet!

Just in case you need a hand getting there, here’s a map:

Hamlet @ The Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 10.07.12

This year we have the pleasure of offering tickets to see Hamlet at the RSC. When booked with registration tickets are the special price of just £16 – we have a very limited number left, so don’t miss out!

Any Shakespeare fan will know Hamlet, but this production brings you the play like you’ve never seen it before. It’s bright, it’s fast, it’s young, and it’s performed by one of the strongest ensembles the RSC has seen in a long time. We won’t ruin it for you, but it’s safe to say we loved it and we hope you will too!

Find out more about Hamlet from the RSC, or watch the feature trailer  here.

Travel Bursary Applications Now Open

Good morning!

We’ve added a new page to the blog this morning, in the drop-down menu below “Funding Resources.” You’ll find information on the four competitive travel bursaries being offered to delegates this year, through the generous support of the Lizz Ketterer Trust, as well as the downloadable application (available both as a PDF and Word document).

Applications are due 19 May and are open to all full- or part-time students who have been selected to present a paper at this year’s conference. Other application requirements and details are listed on the new page. Applications may be submitted by email or post.

In the meantime, remember that early-bird registration for auditors also ends on 19 May. You’re welcome to register after that, however late fees will apply. Submit a registration form today – BritGrad 2016 is shaping up to be a great conference and we’d love to see you there.

~ The BritGrad Committee

Plenary Profile: Eoin Price

It’s time for the final Plenary Profile of the 2016 conference! Meet Eoin Price: an academic (and former BritGrad committee member) who works on the politics of Renaissance performance and publication.

Eoin Price

Dr Eoin Price is a Lecturer in English Literature at Swansea University. Before joining Swansea, he was a PhD student at The Shakespeare Institute where he co-organized BritGrad. His interest in the politics of performance and playbook publication led him to write ‘Public’ and ‘Private’ Playhouses in Renaissance England: The Politics of Publication (Palgrave: 2015) and has also written about Renaissance drama for Literature Compass, The Map of Early Modern London and The Year’s Work in English Studies. In addition to his historical research he is increasingly interested in the twenty-first century reception and afterlife of Renaissance plays. He writes about modern productions on his personal blog and also reviews for Shakespeare, Shakespeare Bulletin, and Reviewing Shakespeare. He is part of the Executive Committee of the Marlowe Society of America and serves as the Performance Editor for The Marlowe Society of America Newsletter.

Plenary Profiles: Stephen Purcell

Ready for the eighth in our series of Plenary Profiles? Meet Stephen Purcell: an academic and artistic director who specialises in Shakespeare in performance.

Stephen Purcell (1)

Stephen Purcell is Associate Professor of English at the University of Warwick. His publications include Popular Shakespeare, the Shakespeare Handbooks volume on Webster’s The White Devil, and Shakespeare and Audience in Practice. His research focuses on Shakespeare and his contemporaries in modern performance and popular culture. He directs for the theatre company The Pantaloons.

Check back soon to find out more about our plenary speakers for BritGrad 2016!