Friday, February 22, 2013

Gwen Hoberg Answers Questions About UMD Publishing Conference

This spring the University of Minnesota-Duluth is hosting a conference on publishing in the 21st century. It’s a one-day event called “21st-Century Publishing: Industry, Media, and the Future of Print." The event will take place on Friday, April 12 on the Duluth campus of the University of Minnesota. Gwendolyn Hoberg is one of the organizers of this event. You may recognize her name from the column she writes for The Reader.

EN: What is the purpose of this conference?
Gwen Hoberg: The UMD master of English program has an emphasis that I believe is fairly unusual, publishing and print culture. This conference is an opportunity for local and regional students, professors, and publishing industry professionals to have conversations about what publishing is like now and what lies ahead. Because it's the first conference the UMD English Graduate Student Association has helped plan, we decided to keep our focus fairly broad, rather than choose a particular field of publishing or solicit only academic research presentations, for instance. Future UMD students may want to narrow their focus if the conference becomes an annual or biennial event.

EN: What kinds of people should try to attend?
GH: We welcome anyone with an interest in 21-century publishing to attend, whether that's staying for the whole day or going to just one panel or roundtable.

EN: Where did the idea for this conference come from and how did you personally get involved?
GH: On the drive back from a conference in Madison this past September, David Beard of the Writing Studies Dept. floated to me the idea of our graduate student group organizing a conference. When I asked him if he had a theme in mind, he encouraged me to pick something I was interested in. I'm on the publishing and print culture track and have been researching self-publishing, so I felt the broad theme of publishing was a place to start. After talking to my fellow grad students to figure out if they were interested as well, we began brainstorming participants, dates, and panel ideas.

EN: What does the English Graduate Student Association do?
GH: Some of our activities focus on professional development, and others focus more on socializing, moral support, and relaxation. Most months we have a meeting with a guest speaker from the English or Writing faculty. Some past topics were how to prepare a CV and how to manage your online presence as you enter the job market. This year we had our second winter tea for students and faculty, and we've done a few outdoor poetry readings. I'm pushing for another outdoor reading when it gets a bit warmer.

EN: Dorothy Parker once wrote, “I hate writing but I love having written.” How about you? Do you ever feel that way?
GH: She puts it so well, as usual. Writing is hard work, partly because it involves making decision after decision about sentence structure, organization, word choice, audience, and so on. As I tell the students in my Beginning College Writing classes, you can't write well if your brain is on autopilot. So yes, when I'm tired, anxious, or frustrated because my ideas are unorganized, I don't enjoy writing. But having written is a wonderful thing. I haven't yet written anything I'd consider a masterwork, but I love re-reading or just remembering pieces that are evidence of all the thought and care I put into them.

EN: Where can people find out more about the conference? Do attendees need to register in advance?
GH: We do want people to register in advance. People are encouraged to visit the conference website for a full schedule of events and panelists. Follow the Registration link on the left column or along the bottom to register.

EN: Thanks for all your work on this. I know a lot of people who are looking forward to it.

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