Spreading the Word: 2013 AAR/SBL Bibliobloggers Gathering

The 2013 AAR/SBL meeting is steadily approaching and I hear bibliobloggers are meeting!  Hop on over to Near Emmaus where Brian LePort is helping to organize the 2013 AAR/SBL Bibliobloggers gathering for more info.  I’m planning on being there.  I *think* the whole Cataclysmic team will be at AAR/SBL so maybe we’ll all make it to the gathering (you’ll have to ask them for sure).

Looking forward to meeting some new folks and seeing some familiar faces!


How To: Your First Biblical Studies Conference Paper

Last March I presented a paper at a Society of Biblical Literature/American Academy of Religion (SBL/AAR) conference for the first time.  It was a great experience that was made possible by the advice and help of my professors and friends.  Since proposals for the Southwest Regional SBL/AAR conference are due next Monday, I thought I would share some advice to anyone proposing/presenting a paper for the first time.

An action shot of my first SBL/AAR presentation
An action shot of my first SBL/AAR presentation

[1] Submit A Proposal!

Until last year, I wasn’t even aware that someone without a graduate degree could present at these conferences.  If you are thinking about submitting a paper, let me encourage you to muster up the courage to do it!  I had written a paper for a graduate class on Paul (“A [Just] War for Romans 13:1-7“) and my professor (the honorable Ben Blackwell) encouraged me to revise it and submit it.  For your first time, I’d encourage you to work with a paper you have previously written.

The submission instructions can be found on the conference website and are fairly straightforward.  AAR only requires you to submit a title & an abstract, but if you are submitting to SBL (and do not have a PhD) you are required to also include a full draft of the paper & the name/address of a professor who is familiar with your work (another good reason to submit a paper you’ve already written).

[2] Revise your paper considering two factors: timing and oral performance.  (And Practice!)

It’s important to remember that a conference paper is meant to be heard, not read.  When you are revising your paper (remember, the best papers are re-written papers), make sure that it is timed appropriately.  Since everyone reads at a different pace, practice to determine your average speed (words per minute) while making sure that you are not speed-reading.

[3] Get copious amounts of feedback. (And Practice!)

Make sure that you get plenty of feedback on your paper and that you have thoroughly practiced reading it.  I had the opportunity to present my paper at a School of Christian Thought Colloquium the week before the conference and so was able to get valuable feedback from the amazing faculty at HBU.

[4] Prepare a simple and informative handout.

Your audience will appreciate your handout.  I would suggest that you provide your email address on it (in fact, I even received a couple emails after my presentation).

[5] Enjoy yourself!  

After you have prepared and practiced, get some rest and enjoy the conference.  If you’re interested in presenting a paper, I’m assuming that at some level you find this sort of experience “fun.”  Enjoy the opportunity to research, write, and share your ideas with colleagues.

I know that other bloggers have shared some good advice about presenting at conferences.  
If you know of any particularly good posts, will you share them in the comments?