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University Writing and Research Symposium
The George Washington University
Propose a poster design, get rich!
Spring 2009 Symposium poster design contest

UW faculty Matt Riley shows unidentified attendee the way at the 2007 University Writing and Research Symposium


Due 4:30 p.m., Friday, April 3, 2009, in University Writing Program offices .


The Spring 2009 University Writing and Research Symposium is a two-day event on the two campuses of The George Washington University. In panels of three of four speakers, in roundtable discussions, in research poster sessions, or even in dramatic readings of original works, students in the first year writing course (UW20) present their research and writing in a public forum that includes fellow students, faculty, and members of the broader DC community.

All students are encouraged to attend the Symposium. The final program of presenters will be organized by a review panel of UW20 faculty. Proposals are due Friday, April 3. Presenters will be notified by Monday, April 13 and will be asked to circulate a draft of their work among co-presenters and their session moderator by Friday, April 17.

A proposal consists of a one-page cover letter and a one-page information sheet. For additional information, and for document forms and models, see These proposals should be delivered by 4:30 pm on Friday, April 3 to either 556 Rome Hall (University Writing Program offices at Foggy Bottom) or Academic Building, Rm 214 (Mt. Vernon).

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These instructions and a sample cover letter are available for download at the bottom of this page. The review panel will use this letter to match your work with compatible presentations.

Please address your one-page letter to the following:

UWP 2009 Symposium Review Panel
801 22nd Street, NW, Rome 556
Washington, DC 20052

In the letter, provide context for the abstract you have written for the information sheet. (See below). Specifically, describe (1) how you propose to shape your material and thereby lead an audience to see something they had not seen before and (2) how your proposed presentation frames a critical and original scholarly project likely to engage the Symposium audience—a broad cross-section of GW students (especially first-year), but also faculty, librarians, and D.C. area community members.

As in all scholarly research and writing, simply informing audiences is never enough; it is crucial that you can make clear the intellectual stakes of your presentation. As you draft your letter, consider these questions:

  • Does your topic raise critical intellectual, moral, or political questions likely to matter to the audience described above?
  • Do your methods or claims represent a significant challenge to conventional public wisdom, the existing scholarly literature, or your own initial assumptions about the topic?
  • Does your research make particularly original use of primary, secondary, archival, or online sources?
  • Is your presentation style innovative or engaging in ways critical to the exploration of your topic?

Finish by explaining what you still need to do to ready your presentation for the Symposium. Then provide contact information (such as your e-mail address) and suggest your willingness to answer any further questions or concerns the review panel might have. End on a note along the lines of “I look forward to hearing the review panel’s thoughts on my project, and I look forward to presenting it at the Symposium.”

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NOTE: A blank information sheet is available for download below.

Fill out the serarate information sheet, with special attention to the following.

Title and Abstract

Your title should clearly indicate your topic and argument. In your abstract, in no more than 150 words, describe your critical and original contribution to forwarding, extending, or questioning existing public, scholarly, or personal viewpoints. Write with the understanding that your title and abstract will be printed—as submitted—in the online Symposium program. They serve, thus, as your direct pitch to potential audience members. Last year’s program can provide some guidance.


Provide six key terms that characterize your topic or approach, for the review panel to use in matching your presentation with others.

Presentation Type

Presentations take a variety of formats; the following are the most typical. See also
  • ORAL PRESENTATION: Often called a paper, this is an abridged research essay, generally no more than 10 pages long, presented alongside others, and followed by Q&A with the audience. The review panel will group papers into either (a) a panel of two to four presenters speaking for 10-20 minutes each or (b) a roundtable of four to six presenters who briefly summarize their work for 5-10 minutes before opening up a broader discussion.

  • POSTER: Mixing text and graphics, a poster summarizes and illuminates the sources, method, argument, results, and implications of a research project. Posters are available for viewing during the entire day. During a poster session presenters are available for informal discussions of their work with symposium attendees.

  • OTHER: Group panels, performances, multi-media presentations—students at past Symposia have imagined novel ways to present their work within the confines of the 75 minute sessions. Students proposing alternative formats should emphasize how their work will engage a scholarly audience.
For more guidance, see our resources for students and faculty on presentation styles.

Available Schedule

Indicate all times you are available to present your work. Please be generous.The review panel must fit together over one hundred presenters’ schedules. (NOTE: Include any times your UW20 section would meet on these days.)

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Download Materials

The following Call for Proposals materials are available for download:

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