Newman senior and University Archives Lead Student Intern Diana Stanley has been selected to present papers at two separate conferences during the spring semester.
Stanley belongs to two honors societies — Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society and Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society.
Stanley first submitted a paper entitled “Journalism and the Jury: A Murder in the Midwest” to the Regional Nebraska Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society 2017 Conference, which will take place March 2-4 in Omaha, Neb. This presentation will help her fulfill the requirement to graduate in the Newman Honors Program.
She also submitted a paper entitled “Now as Saint Francis (if a saint) am I” that she will present at the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society 2017 International Convention, which will be held March 29 to April 1 in Louisville, Ky.
Stanley said she needed to scout out the best conference for the history paper, which is actually her senior thesis, in order to find the right fit. “I’m already connected to Phi Alpha Theta through the History Club and I really like how their conference was connected with the Missouri Valley Conference,” said Stanley. “I looked at that one for that reason, and also because it’s in Omaha, so it’s not that long of a drive to attend.”
For the history conference, she will focus on the first section of her senior thesis, also titled “Journalism and the Jury: A Murder in the Midwest,” because of its broad application yet singular focus. Her topic covers the first trial of El Dorado, Kan., socialite Jessie Morrison who was accused of murdering Jame Wiley Castle in 1900 during a fight.
Stanley said, “It made national headlines because it was a rather sensational story that involved a love triangle between Jessie Morrison and Olin Castle who was married to a woman named Jane Wiley Castle.”
When searching for a topic for her senior thesis, Stanley had a couple of options but knew this story would ultimately be the route she would take. Two of her professors also encouraged her to write about this particular topic. “I was talking to Professor McFall [Associate Professor of History, Kelly McFall, Ph.D.] about my thesis,” said Stanley. “I was going to tell him a couple of different routes I was thinking of going. I started telling him about this topic and I never even made it to my second option, when he said, ‘I’ve never heard of this, this is really interesting.’ So I decided to go with it.”
After submitting to the history conference, Stanley said she decided to try for another submission merely to challenge herself. The Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society Conference was her first choice and she decided to submit a paper she’d written on English poet Henry Constable’s sonnet sequence titled “Diana.”
“I realized that when I was writing that paper, there just aren’t that many people that write about Constable,” she said. “So I figured since it was a little more obscure topic, they might like it, and they did.”
The Kentucky event is a national conference with thousands of participants and hundreds of speakers. Stanley said she is looking forward to the conference in order to get a whole new experience because of its large scale. The conference will be the largest one where Stanley has presented a paper, but it’s not the first one. “I presented at a conference in the summer of 2016, so I have a little experience,” she said. “I like challenge and adventure, so I’m excited to have both these opportunities.”
Speaking at both conferences is a very big deal for Stanley. She said she’s sure that she’ll be nervous, but will go in prepared and ready. “Every major academic speaking opportunity like this is another hurdle. You’re never going to get rid of nervousness completely, but each one will help push yourself further and further.”
As for future presentations, she said she may not make any for awhile so she can focus on graduation and then law school. When asked if she’ll do more writing anytime soon, Stanley said she would love to and has even considering writing a book.
“I may have enough on the Morrison trial to write one. The great difficulty in that piece is narrowing down for a thesis.”