University of Pittsburgh


CLASS ACTS Exploring The Role of Classics In Modern Performance

Undergraduate Paper/Presentation Session

Instructions for Abstracts & Submissions! 

Date : March 21, 2014 Ballroom A, The University Club; The conference will consist of 3 panels consisting of 3 presenters each.

Who can submit proposals?   All undergraduate students, regardless of year, can submit proposals for papers that focus on film studies (including film, video, television, photography, and digital media).
  Writing and submitting the proposal:

  • Proposals are due by January 31, 2014.  

  • You can send the proposals anytime before the proposal deadline.
  • Email the proposal as an attachment to
  • In short, an individual proposal is an approximately 200-400 word summary of your paper’s main argument or ideas.
  • At the top of the proposal, please put your name and email address; also indicate what technology (VHS, DVD, PowerPoint) you will need for your presentation.
  • You can submit up to two individual proposals (with the expectation that only one can be accepted).
Basics of a proposal:
  • Be sure to provide a title for your paper that pinpoints the focus of your paper in an interesting way.
  • Immediately identify the texts, authors, and/or topics that your paper will address.
  • State your paper’s primary claim/argument.
  • If you know your paper’s conclusions, straightforwardly state them in the proposal; if you don’t know yet what conclusions your paper will reach (because you haven’t finished revising the paper), then share your thoughts on what those conclusions might be.  Where do you think the paper is going?
  • Don’t be unnecessarily wordy: aim to make your proposal clear and brief.
Once you have the basic proposal, include the following elements.  Addressing these elements may take a bit of time, but doing so will make your proposal stronger by helping the conference committee better understand your intellectual motivations for writing the paper and better understand the general context for your ideas and approach.
  1. Reason for Writing:
    Your proposal should answer the “so what?” question.  How does your work address the theme of the conference? Why would other students/faculty be interested in this particular line of inquiry?  What does it bring to the table that is different from prior treatments of the text/topic?  Basically, what makes your interpretation special?
  2. Statement of Problem:
    What about the text/topic or current scholarship calls for a careful reading or re-reading of the text?
  3. Methodology or Critical/Theoretical Approach:
    What types of evidence do you use to investigate this problem?  Are you using a feminist, queer theory, Marxist, or some other type of critical approach?  If so, you want to make that explicit; let us know what type of approach has shaped your thinking and your interpretation.
  4. Results/Implications:
    How will your paper contribute to the field you are dealing with?  What can other students/faculty take away from your paper?  How might the ideas presented in your paper speak to or open up different lines of inquiry about the text or director you discuss?
As a general rule, use keywords and phrases in the proposal that you use in the paper. And use any keywords that occur in the posters/calls for papers for the conference, thus making it obvious why your paper is a good fit. Also, keep in mind that the proposal is your opportunity to showcase your own work; DO NOT refer extensively to other works on the subject you address (unless your point is to argue with or significantly extend their insights).
  The symposium paper: If your proposal is selected, you will have about 10 minutes to present your paper, including any time needed for clips (panels will therefore have a total of 45 minutes to present three papers).  Conference papers without clips should be 7-8 double-spaced pages long, adjust accordingly for the length of your media clips. We will contact you by February 8th if we have selected your proposal for the symposium. If we select your proposal, we will assign you a time to present; although we wish we could accommodate every student’s individual schedule, we will be unable to change the presentation time we assign you. If you are selected to present, your acceptance email will contain details about an informational meeting on February 21st that will offer tips on how to best adapt your paper for an oral presentation, how to best utilize clips and power points, and how to practice timing and delivery before the symposium


This material is adapted from the Pitt Undergraduate Film Studies Symposium and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center website.  For more info, go to Thanks in particular to Pitt's Undergraduate Conference in Literature for materials.