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Southern Plains Conference organizers (from left) Salman Rafique, Komal Nazir, Dr. Stephanie Link, Rachel Klammer, Sean Coolican and Tiegan Willoughby.

Department of English hosts inaugural Southern Plains Arts, Humanities and Languages Conference 

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Media Contact: Elizabeth Gosney | CAS Marketing and Communications Manager | 405-744-7497 |

The Oklahoma State University Department of English hosted the inaugural Southern Plains Arts, Humanities and Languages Conference April 28-29 at the Wes Watkins Center.   

The conference brought together instructors and students from various programs in the College of Arts and Sciences along with participants from regional universities such as the University of Oklahoma, Texas Christian University and the University of Central Oklahoma.  

On Friday evening, guests attended a plenary session featuring Columbia University’s Dr. Jack Halberstam titled “Beyond Repair: Queer Theories of the Broken.” Several panels and presentations were held throughout Saturday.   

“It was virtually impossible to see everything, but that’s a good problem to have,” said Sean Coolican, Ph.D. student and Department of English graduate student coordinator. “I’m so grateful for all the students and professors who made this first-time event so wonderful. It was one of the best days I’ve had at this university.”  

The panels featured discussions on relevant topics in academia including academic honesty in the age of ChatGPT, how big businesses affect mass transportation, teaching in academia during controversial times and the ethics of writing creative nonfiction. The conference was host to more than 30 individual presentations that covered topics such as composition and English language learners, experiencing microaggressions and double binding as a marginalized instructor, reclaiming Black women’s health, and creative work that addresses domestic abuse.   

The theme of the conference was “Mending and Momentum” because, for many, it was the first time coming together for a large, in-person event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

“We chose this theme because it’s the first time we're re-emerging and coming together again as a community,” Coolican said. “Of course, the pandemic is not the only event — there have been many national and international events that have divided us. With our panels and presentations, we aimed to mend some of those fractures, and going forward, with momentum, we can continue to communicate and collaborate through the humanities.”   

The Southern Plains Conference will return in the spring of 2024, and the conference’s advisory board aims to have even more presenters and attendees next year.   

“We are devoted to establishing OSU as the preeminent land-grant university by being a regional leader in arts, humanities, and languages,” said Dr. Stephanie Link, conference faculty advisor and director of graduate studies for the English department. “As the Southern Plains Conference grows, we will create more opportunities to build a diverse, collaborative network of scholars for a rich, transdisciplinary future.”   

For more information on the Southern Plains Conference, visit their website.   

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