Conferences

You should definitely attend at least a few conferences throughout your postgraduate career, and you should make yourself present papers at some, not least in order to try out your ideas on people other than your supervisor. It is also a very good way to meet academics and other students, to establish useful contacts and exchange ideas.

Finding out about Conferences

There are countless workshops, colloquia and conferences going on all the time, in the UK and beyond. Subscribe to the German Studies mail list for up-to-date information on events (follow the instructions at http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk).

  • UK Postgraduate Conferences: Often, exclusively postgraduate conferences are not restrictively themed, so they are a great way of presenting your research. A one-day conference will usually be small, intimate and very reasonably priced. The IGRS (Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies) holds a biannual postgraduate conference which is an excellent place to give your first paper. See http://igrs.sas.ac.uk for further details.
  • WIGS Annual Conference: this takes place at a different institution each year in November. It is an interdisciplinary, one-day event combining academic papers, a business meeting, and exchange of information. Another great place to give your first paper!
  • AGS (Association for German Studies in Great Britain and Ireland) Annual Conference: this takes place at a different institution each year in March. See http://www.ags.ac.uk for further details.
  • Major Conferences (international/interdisciplinary): these can be considerably more daunting. They are generally themed, although the theme can be rather wide-ranging. A good conference will gather together exciting, well-known speakers who bring an eclectic mix of approaches to the topic in hand. These sorts of events can be inspiring, as you have a high-calibre audience and can get a real sense of how ideas are disseminated and developed in the established academic community. On the other hand, they can also disappoint. Multiple parallel sessions can over-divide the audience, so that you would actually be better served by a smaller, one-day affair. If you need accommodation, you're looking at quite a bill (£100+). Funding to attend the conference may well be available from your institution or elsewhere. See below for further details.

 

Hints and Tips

Some hints and tips on conference attendance: 

  • Be discerning: in all conferences, papers are often very mixed; some conferences themselves are simply ill-conceived. You can get a sense for this by casting a critical eye over the programme: do the titles seem coherent, does the schedule look realistic, is the topic really worth the expense in both time and money?
  • Don’t be afraid to pick and choose, and don't underestimate the amount of time that ‘tweaking’ a chapter to fit a 20 minute paper will take. Don't travel vast distances unless you can really justify it.
  • Be aware of copyright issues: if somebody asks you for a copy of your conference paper / thesis chapter/planned article etc., think about how secure your work will be. You don't need to be paranoid about this, but consider how you would prove the work is yours if it came to the crunch (a supervisor who has read it previously, a public presentation where others have heard it, etc.) Always keep copies of e-mail correspondence.

 

Funding

There are several organizations which offer funding for conference attendance, particularly if you are giving a paper. Here are a few options:

 

Organising Conferences

You may find the opportunity to organize a conference during your studies. The AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) offers up to £2000 for 'student-led initiatives' (such as conference or training events) run by and for postgraduate students - you do not need to be funded by the AHRC to apply:

http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/fundingOpportunities/Pages/CRTS-Student-LedInitiative.aspx