UCR Sponsors PAMLA Conference in Riverside

By Laila Rashid, CHASS Dean’s Office Student Intern
December 8, 2014

The Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association, or PAMLA, recently held its 112th annual conference at the Riverside Convention Center from October 31st through November 2nd. In light of Halloween, the theme was “familiar spirits,” and over one thousand were in attendance. Participants were encouraged to propose papers relating to themes such as spirits, magic, conjuring, the uncanny, and the paranormal.

While UCR was the largest contributor, the conference was cosponsored by La Sierra University, California Baptist University, Riverside City College, Chaffey College, and California State University, San Bernardino.

Outside of the panels, activities included a walking tour of historic Riverside and Tio’s Tacos, Halloween reception, and movie showing.

John Ganim, distinguished professor of English at UCR and first vice president of PAMLA, expressed great delight over the success of the conference. “The convention center’s responsiveness and organization was unexpected and remarkable,” he said. “It’s an encouragement for other organizations to use it in the future.” 

UCR English majors were given the opportunity to earn units by volunteering as interns, and over a dozen did so.  They were required to assist with set-up, registration, and troubleshooting issues related to the many panels. When they were not assigned to tasks, the volunteers could attend sessions of their interest, introduce themselves to the chair interns and volunteer to assist if needed. Afterwards, they were expected to write a brief report detailing their duties at the conference, as well as a description of, and their impressions of, any papers presented or panels attended.

“Our students really impressed people with their professionalism and imagination” said Ganim.

Estefania Zavala, a fourth year student, described the experience as, “an amazing opportunity to meet the most influential people in the world of English literature.” She attended a panel on science fiction’s manipulation of time lines and claimed that the passion and wisdom of the presenters increased her love for English even further.

First year student Amrita Kular heard about the unique opportunity from her advisor, Linda Nellany. When asked about the significance of UCR’s involvement, Kular stated, “UCR’s dedication to learn about different fields and encourage its students and faculty members to explore novel ideas and perspectives in a field was indicative of the campus being a living laboratory to learn about issues important for growing communities.”

Ganim, who has been involved with PAMLA for over twenty years, considered the conference to be one of the best he had ever experienced. “We expected six hundred papers and received nine hundred,” he said. “It was also amazing in terms of UCR’s visibility. A lot of people were going to suggest sending their students to UCR for grad school.”

The 113th conference is scheduled to take place in Portland, Oregon in November 2015.

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