Discover Your Island

Island University’s Graduate Symposium Gives Humanistic Touch to Movement and Mobility

May 05, 2017

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Whether in the material world or the abstract sense, society and people are constantly on the move. Those themes were discussed during the 2017 Movement and Mobility Interdisciplinary Graduate Symposium hosted by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s English and Humanities departments. The symposium lasted two days and attracted people from throughout the state and nation. It consisted of a keynote address, panels and more. During the panels, graduate students shared a humanistic approach to this topic with the academic and local communities. The humanities are the study of human culture and can include philosophy, literature, arts and history.

“I’m interested in how ideas can be harnessed and mobilized to create empathy. This can get people to think about someone else’s experience with a new lens,” said Dr. Dale Pattison, Assistant Professor of English at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “The symposium brought together this collection of ideas and people. It created an environment where the experience of what academia calls ‘the other’ can be shared, cultivated and grown.”

The keynote speech featured Dr. Hester Blum, Associate Professor of English at Penn State University. Her keynote address discussed nineteenth-century Anglo-American polar expedition texts and their gendered history. By taking a humanistic approach through history and literature, Blum related texts of the past to present concerns such as climate change.

 “The circulation of ideas is part of the beauty of movement and mobility,” said Blum. “We have to be in motion to put those ideas into movement.”

Not only did the symposium offer students the opportunity to share the fruit of their research, but the students also gained personal and academic experience.

“The symposium helps students feel a connection to an intellectual community bigger than themselves. They get to see the conversations people are having,” said Dr. Sarah Salter, Visiting Assistant Professor of English as A&M-Corpus Christi. “On a professional level, it helps graduate students understand some of the conventions in academic discourse of their respective disciplines.”

Several students engaged with the theme of “movement and mobility” by involving Corpus Christi’s history. Tara Ivey presented her thesis subject about Corpus Christi’s founder during a presentation titled “The Life and Movements of Henry Lawrence Kinney.” Known by many nicknames, including the “Hustler of the Wilderness,” Kinney’s movements told the story of political and geographic changes in the United States’ expansion.

 “Very few people in Corpus Christi know Kinney’s story. A modern, full-length, and scholarly biography has not yet been written. Our city’s founder definitely deserves one” said Ivey, who’s getting her masters in history. “This is my second symposium, and I always enjoy engaging with my peers.”

The symposium also included undergraduate abstracts and the debut of “The Windward Review,” a literary journal highlighting the Coastal Bend and South Texas. During lunch, an open-mic poetry session that encouraged public participation was also held.

In 2013, the annual Interdisciplinary Graduate Symposium began as a conference dedicated to the Island community. Since then, it’s grown into a national symposium. This year, one student journeyed from Tennessee. Previous topics have included “Visions of Elsewhere,” “Spaces in Between” and “Bodies.”

To learn more about the Humanities and English departments, click here.