Interview with Southeast Regional Graduate Student Conference Chair Allyson Gates

By Danielle Wirsansky on March 1, 2017
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The History Graduate Student Association at Florida State University is pleased to host the 9th Annual Southeast Regional Graduate Student Conference on March 3, 2017 in Tallahassee, Florida. The theme for the conference is “Oppression and Resistance.” Conference panels will examine oppression and resistance by addressing the interplay between these two sides of conflict. Papers will address conflict on any scale, from individuals to groups or institutions, and investigate the chosen conflict through relevant socio-cultural factors such as gender, sexuality, class, race, religion, ethnicity/nationality, etc. The conference is designed to foster a collaborative academic environment between and among graduate students and faculty. Dr. Abigail Cooper, Assistant Professor of History at Brandeis University,  will present the keynote speech. Thanks to the support of the Congress Of Graduate Students, HGSA will provide dinner to conference participants at 5:00PM at the Claude Pepper Center. If you are just attending the conference, you are welcome to join with or without your own food. There are a small number of fast food/fast casual restaurants within walking distance of the Claude Pepper Center along West Tennessee St.

To get the inside scoop on the conference, check out this exclusive interview with Conference Committee Chair, Allyson Gates, a graduate student in the History Department working towards her PhD.

Southeast Regional Graduate Student Conference

What is the Southeast Regional Graduate Student Conference?

AG: The Southeast Regional Graduate Student Conference is an annual conference hosted by the FSU history department HGSA. The conference brings together graduate students from various programs and schools across the US, providing them with a more casual setting to present their current work and receive feedback from their peers.
 What topics and fields will be represented at the conference?
AG: The theme this year is Oppression and Resistance. Some of the topics to be presented are: issues of race in relation to slavery and the Civil Rights movement, female agency, resistance during wartime, the oppression and resistance of Native Americans. A couple of examples include: Casting Character: An Examination of Crafted Memory in Bronze Legacy Statues at Florida State University by Lydia Nabors, and The Gilded Cage of Frances Cleveland: The Repression and Resistance of a First Lady by Katie Beasley.
How did the committee decide on the theme, Oppression and Resistance? Why do you think this theme is relevant?
AG: Each year, the committee attempts to choose a topic that is relevant to the present and offers opportunities for students of various fields to participate. With the election of this past November, issues relating to resistance are at the forefront of current events in the United States, the recent issues with police aggression towards African Americans also helped inspire this topic.
How did you get involved with organizing the conference?
AG: I try to stay involved in the graduate student community within the history department. I assisted with the conference committee last year, and as the only student who volunteered to work on the conference committee this year who had previous experience, I was summarily chosen as the head of the group. For better or worse — we’ll find out on Friday.

Allyson Gates

How has the conference changed over the years?
AG:  Since I have been a student at FSU –since 2012– the conference has always struggled a bit. This year HGSA decided to change things up by moving the conference to a Friday, with the hope of gaining additional traffic to our panels.
What do you think the importance of hosting this conference here at FSU is?
AG: Having this conference on our campus is a really great opportunity for FSU students. The conference offers graduate students from many departments to present their work to their peers in a low stress environment, as compared to bigger national conferences. Additionally, undergraduate students who attend can get an idea of what grad school is like, get a feel for how to present material, and to meet graduate students in the fields they are interested in.
When and where is the conference taking place?
AG: The conference is taking place between 12:30 and 4:30 in the Globe. The day will conclude with a keynote speech in the Claude Pepper Center at 6:00 PM.
Who is the keynote speaker and why was she chosen to speak to this theme?
AG: The keynote speaker is  Dr. Abigail Cooper from Brandeis University. Dr. Cooper specializes in African American history, with a focus on refugee camps during the Civil War. African American history is central to any discussion of oppression and resistance in the United States.
Is there anything you’d like to add that I may not have asked?
AG:  Everyone is welcome, so please feel free to stop by even if you can’t stay the whole time. We look forward to seeing you there!
For more information visit the HGSA website or the facebook event page.
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Danielle Wirsansky graduated from FSU with a BA in Theatre and a BA in Creative Writing with a minor in History. She is a first year graduate student in FSU's History department. She studied abroad in London, England for the Spring 2015 semester at FSU's study center for the Playwriting Program and interned for the English National Theatre of Israel in Summer of 2015. Her first musical, City of Light, opened as part of FSU's New Horizons Festival in Spring of 2016. She has also won the MRCE and URCAA Research grants from FSU. In the past, she served as the Marketing Director for the FSU Student Theatre Association, the intern for the Holocaust Education Resource Council, and the research assistant of Prof. Nathan Stoltzfus. She has previously written for Context Florida (Contributing Writer), USA Today College (Contributing Writer), Sheroes of History (Contributing Blogger), No(le)Reservations (Contributing Blogger), Female, Reloaded (Arts/Entertainment Editor) , I Want a Buzz Magazine (intern), Mandarin Newsline (youth arts update columnist), Distink Designs (Guest blogger), whatscheaper.com (associate editor), escapewizard.com (associate editor), Spark TLH (Contributor), the Tallahassee Democrat (contributor), Elan Literary Magazine (Head of Marketing), and the Improviser Newspaper (Opinions Editor).

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