GSEA Conference unites students from the English Department

The Graduate Scholars of English Association (GSEA) hosted its annual conference Friday where it aimed to unify graduate scholars across all English programs. This year’s theme was “Collage: Difference and Alliance.”

Graduate student Ekaterina Kleshchenko said the topic was chosen to highlight the unity of a multilingual society.

“There are many conflicts around the world right now,” said Kleshchenko. “We wanted to unify multilingual students and different papers in the form of a collage during the event.”

The annual conference allows graduate and undergraduate students to present work they’ve done during the academic year. Undergraduate students from English 101 can present their research, while graduate students showcase capstone projects.

“We want to unify students within the English department because it’s not only the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages department; there are many other specialties,” said Kleshchenko. 

Among those specialties are technical communication, creative writing, TSOL and other specialties.

Each year, the GSEA invites keynote speakers and holds informative sessions for students to learn more about the field. This year, the GSEA presented sessions on innovative practices and methodologies in language teaching and research, unveiling communication dynamics and literacy narrative and multiple other topics.

Associate Professor Danielle Haque was one of the keynote speakers. According to Kleshchenko, the GSEA invited her because of her rich experience in English. In addition to this, she was a member of GSEA, which Kleshchenko finds very useful for current graduate scholars.

The second keynote panelist was Josh Madson, an experienced photographer who lived and worked in Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo. He is known as the creator of Mankato Community Collage, a portrait photography project that so far has produced several thousand photos of people in southern Minnesota. Kleshchenko said they chose him because he possesses valuable skills in creative and artistic works. 

“He has great skills in developing ideas, being creative, and experimenting with different resources,” said Kleshchenko. All these skills are very valuable, and we can learn many things from his presentation.”

Madson said it was wonderful that the theme of the conference, “Collage: Difference and Alliance,” resonated with the project he is currently working on, Mankato Community Collage. 

Madson’s goal was to share with students that everyone in the community is a part of something larger.

“I think it’s easy to forget that we can make a difference and that we are important,” said Madson. “Through community, there’s a lot more possible than by yourself, and you never know what someone might be able to help you with. Opening up and sharing with people could make a difference and bring us all together.”

Madson spoke about societal unity. He said people’s focus should shift from differences between individuals to similarities.

“If we focus on how different we are, then we’re going to have a lot of problems,” said Madson. “But I think if we realize we’re so similar and we all basically want the same things, we can accomplish a lot and probably understand each other a lot better.”

Write to Amalia Sharafkhodjaeva at

Josh Madson spoke at the Graduate Scholars of English Association’s annual conference Friday. The theme this year was “Collage: Difference and Alliance.” Madson is known for his work on the Mankato Collage. (Nate Tilahun/The Reporter)

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