What is humanity’s most important invention? Some might say vaccines, electricity or the internet. But each of those technologies was the result of thousands of years’ worth of communication through language. Language is how we come to understand the world and ourselves. Though often invisible, it is the building block of human civilization.
Knights Write Showcase was created by the Department of Writing and Rhetoric to put a spotlight on how central language is to our lives: To celebrate the diverse ways we use language and literacy at the university and beyond.
This year’s Knights Write Showcase will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 8, and Thursday, Feb. 9, in the Pegasus Grand Ballroom from 9:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. Attendees can view poster presentations, frequent panels and hear from students in the First-Year Writing program, the Writing Across the Curriculum program, the University Writing Center as well as undergraduates and graduates in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric. Student presenters and keynote speakers will discuss their research and perspectives on the topics of language and literacy.
Kicking off the showcase will be a keynote address from Laura Gonzales ’11MA on how her training in writing and rhetoric at UCF helped her develop a career researching the importance of language diversity in classrooms, workplaces and communities. Jeff Moore, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, will close the event with a discussion about how writing is an integral part of his life and present awards and a scholarship to top student presenters at the showcase.
“Giving our students a platform to showcase their work serves as a point of recognition for excellence,” says Joseph Longhany, instructor in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric. “Knights Write Showcase is a platform to help students see that they matter, that their thinking is valued and that they can produce writing that is meaningful.”
One of the goals of Knights Write Showcase is to celebrate language diversity.
Student presentations this year range from the literacies of puppy raising to the intersection of Kazakh and Russian code, to the multilingual world navigated by people who learned English as a second language. For many students, the showcase is an opportunity to share aspects of their culture or simply discuss topics they are passionate about.
“Each year, Knights Write Showcase celebrates language diversity by inviting students to share their own research and writing about language and linguistic diversity,” Longhany says. “Helping students to embrace their own linguistic heritage as well as value diversity in literacy and language practices, sets them up for success in an ever increasingly diverse world.”
Presenting her work at Knights Write Showcase last year gave biology junior Zoe Commesso the opportunity to dive into researching a topic that fascinates her. At the undergraduate roundtable, she discussed a paper from her first-year composition class that analyzed how regional dialects are used in classic literature to instill prejudice and stereotypes against women and people of color.
“My favorite part of Knights Write Showcase was getting the chance to talk about something I’m passionate about with an audience of people who share the same intellectual curiosity,” Commesso says.
“I think everybody has a topic they could talk about for hours, and that’s what Knights Write Showcase was for me.” — Zoe Commesso, UCF student
After being selected for the showcase, Commesso spent the next year preparing her research and presentation skills with the support of expert faculty in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric.
“Assistant Professor Dr. Esther Milu really helped me when we were discussing the topic and supported me through my research. The paper ended up being about 100 pages, which I had to cut down to 10 for the showcase,” Commesso says. “Dr. Longhany was also incredible in helping me prepare for the showcase. He reviewed and practiced my presentation with me probably ten times, and helped me get over stage fright enough to be successful at the roundtable.”
For neuroscience sophomore Shankari Somesekar, Knights Write Showcase was a gateway to new opportunities. As someone who never considered herself a writer, Somesekar was surprised when her freshman composition instructor selected an essay she wrote in class to be presented at the event.
“The experience absolutely increased my confidence in writing,” Somesekar says. “As a science gal, I never thought I was a good writer, but presenting pushed me out of my comfort zone in the best way. I learned so much about different fields, different types of writing and how to tutor writing. Developing these writing and research skills also helped me a lot with papers for my science classes.”
After presenting her work, Somesekar was contacted by faculty at the University Writing Center to become a writing tutor. Working as a tutor helped her gain a love for writing that she never knew she was capable of. The research and public speaking experience she gained at the showcase, Somesekar said, will also help her stand out when applying to graduate school.
“Participating also helped me make meaningful connections with faculty members and with other students,” Somesekar says. “It’s interesting to see what everybody’s been working on, and how diverse topics on language and literacy can be. Language is such an influential part of our society, but it’s not something that we normally think about. Attending the showcase helps open your eyes to that.”
View the full schedule of Knights Write Showcase events here.