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Orality & Literacy Conference Hosted at Geneva

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53640729159_a665d66ef5_o.jpgOn April 4-5, Geneva College welcomed academics from a range of institutions to consider the nature of orality and literacy in an age of social media for a first-time conference of the same name. In addition to two plenary speakers, 32 papers were presented on topics such as the social media app BeReal, New Testament literature, prison slang, C.S. Lewis, and social media marketing.

Arthur W. Hunt III and James D. Dvorak inspired dialogue as the two plenary speakers. In Hunt’s keynote address titled “Didn’t Know the Gun Was Loaded,” he considered the dangers of developing technology based on the works of Walter Ong and Neil Postman. As technology continues to advance, he prompted listeners to consider what dangers may accompany the blessings of technology.

53640384611_5620c6af8f_o.jpgDvorak’s keynote address was titled “‘Just So You Know…’ The Social Function of Storytelling in Relation to Oral Cultures with Reference to Gossip in the Social World of the New Testament.” He considered how one’s worldview on social relationships influences how we tell stories, and how New Testament authors used storytelling to communicate with early Christians.

Throughout the day on Friday, April 5, presenters had the opportunity to share their research during parallel sessions. One such presenter was Kelsey Ingold, assistant director of internal communications at Geneva College and a master's student in communication at Duquesne University.

“The Orality & Literacy Conference was a great opportunity to network with others in the field and learn about some of the deep thought and research being done by scholars in the region. The conference theme allowed for a wide range of topics I think are necessary to consider in our current historical moment. It is always encouraging to connect with old classmates, colleagues, and meet new people in the field. I will be back next year!”

Presenters and attendees of the conference included professors from Geneva and other institutions, graduate students, Geneva alumni, and current undergraduate students. This event allowed for a wide range of academics to engage and learn, and will provide a springboard for similar conferences in the future.

53640212136_10b9b37083_o.jpgDr. Jonathan Watt, professor of biblical studies at Geneva College, was a primary organizer of the conference. He shared, “Our conference brought together scholars from Europe, Canada and the U.S. who presented some 32 scholarly papers across the two days we met — all of them addressing aspects of orality and its interplay with literacy. The feedback we’ve received is overwhelmingly positive, confirming a shared sense of the solid scholarship that went into the presentations, and participants expressed a warm appreciation for the welcoming and friendly spirit of Geneva’s campus.”

The Orality & Literacy Conference was an exciting time for networking, fellowship, and scholarship. Geneva College is grateful to everyone who participated in this conference and everyone who provided support to make it a fruitful event.

By Mattigan Burleigh '24

Apr 18, 2024

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