Review of CCCC: Cassandra Richardson-Coughlin

The following is Cassandra Richardson-Coughlin’s review of her first CCCC experience.


CCCC was the first conference I have attended. I was unaware of its largeness upon agreeing to it, as well as its low acceptance rate and popularity. As these things began to unravel, I began to feel the pressure to really research, to try hard to create a good presentation. My outlook on the conference changed during a conversation with my independent study professor, who informed me that the author of one of my favorite books would be attending and presenting. I then quickly inquired about others only to find that, yes, the people who wrote books that had most recently influenced my direction as a student, would be there. I felt like a groupie, thrilled to see these people in the flesh, what did they look like, dress like, talk like, if their presentations were anything like their writing- whoa!

The panels I saw, and the other panels that I was able to attend were reaffirming and energizing in my direction as a scholar and a writer. The feeling that my observations are accurate, that my fight is real, that it is a swim upstream, honestly makes me feel like I am doing something that really matters in life. I was able to talk to other attendees that were students, professors and authors who validated me and my experiences. This conference made me feel like I was on the front lines of the evolution of writing through research. The panels I saw featured regular people who were bringing the here and now into their presentations so that we may take away new ideas, techniques and questions into our lives. There was such a wide range of topics that it seemed that anything someone was interested could be found in some way.

Presenting in the conference was nerve-racking but great. I made revisions and cut pieces out until about 10 minutes until our presentation. But I felt okay about it. That’s how it goes- I am learning. I envisioned myself with a small portion of the ease and comfort that I had seen speakers like John Carlos demonstrate, but my beating heart and warming face assured me that going off the cuff was not realistic. So I read my paper and showed a slide show. An audience of 12 was perfectly fine with me. I looked at the back wall, the floor and every once and a while stole a glance at the audiences faces. I was relieved by their laughter at one point and became more comfortable as I read. I was proud of what I presented and I thought of ways to continue the research I had started, I felt confident in its value. Neal Lerner was the respondent for our panel, which was read by Dr. Geller- he was able to sum up and tie together our three presentations in way that let me know that he understood my message and that was incredibly comforting and supportive. We were asked questions that showed that the audience was interactive and involved with what we spoke about which once again was really great.

The best part about this conference was being able to take a real problem and research it and be supported by an audience of interested listeners. Being able to be that same audience for others was equally rewarding and thought provoking.

I am really thankful for Harry Denny for recording our panel and I would love to continue the conversation with anyone who may be interested.

About Steve Mentz 1265 Articles
I teach Shakespeare and the blue humanities at St. John's in New York City.

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