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Adam Lambert - Literature & Language

Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert, a junior in the Department of Literature and Language at ETSU, presented a research paper at Genessee Community College in Batavia, NY, entitled Managing Mortality: A Look at Some of John Gardner's Chief Characters. He concentrated on Grendel, a novel by the famous fiction writer John Gardner. Adam is currently pursuing a B.A. degree in English with a minor in Philosophy. This was his first opportunity to present at a professional conference, and his first trip to New York. Although very nervous initially, he states that the experience became a great event for him.

Dr. Sandy Hiortdahl (former member of the ETSU Literature & Language Dept), with whom he took several classes, and the fiction writer John Gardner are among the people who have inspired Adam to continue pursuing his research and dream of becoming a writer and professor. So inspired by Gardner, Adam's motorcycle license plate reads "GR3NDL." When Dr. Hiortdahl suggested that Adam attend the conference, Adam was under the impression he would be just attending – not presenting his research. He was the only undergraduate student at the conference and youngest audience member. Several attendees at the conference possessed PhDs and were published authors. Adam was amazed at the interest displayed by the audience and the wonderful reception he received despite his age. Adam said many in the audience appeared to enjoy listening to his southern accent.

One of the highlights of the conference for Adam was the unique opportunity to meet John Gardner's family and friends, whoJohn Maier and wife with Adam presented him with a signed copy of Gardner's first edition translation of Gilgamesh. The experience of presenting at a professional conference and gaining the respect and interest of others in his field has led Adam to renewed confidence in himself and his goals. Adam feels more connected to the people he met who share the same interests, and feels confident that people will remember him and his research because of his presentation at the conference. Further he says, "If I attend another such conference, perhaps I will have others in my field introduce me." Adam enthusiastically asserts, "Building connections and gaining appreciation for my work, particularly away from home, was truly an amazing experience."

Adam received funding from Honors College, without which he would not have been able to attend the conference. Additionally, he received financial support from the Department of Literature and Language. Adam stressed that it is very important for students to understand the funding possibilities and support available for undergraduates at ETSU but it is up to the student to initiate the process. Adam explained that his friends introduced him to Dr. Foster "Frosty" Levy, Director of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (ETSU Honors College), who explained the process and procedures for obtaining funding to present his research at a professional conference. He affirms that the process was very efficient, smooth and easy to follow. Adam does warn that students should not wait until the last minute to get the paper work done before traveling, as getting signatures from various departments can be hectic.

Adam expresses a clear vision for the future in which he sees himself as a professor and a writer of fiction and poetry. His positive enthusiasm, desire to further his studies, and passion for his discipline, all support his professional goals and visions. He mentioned that, unlike other students who think of writing and reading as an assignment, he reckons them pleasant activities. Adam chuckles, saying, "I write to relax and read for enjoyment."

John Gardner's attention to detail has made Adam realize its importance and has contributed to a change in his writing style, which has now become more detail-oriented. Adam compares writing to real life communication, where much of the interaction that occurs among people or characters is non-verbal. He adds, "The writer who relies on dialogue to convey emotion, or develop a character, has missed the point." Further, he comments that when reading a book the reader should rely on all their senses, so that they can smell, feel, touch, hear, and see what the author intends for the audience. "The idea is to fall straight into the book and experience it as you would in the real world."

Adam recommends that anyone planning to attend graduate school should attend a professional conference and garner the experience and enjoyment of presenting their research. Through his unique experience, he learned that "It doesn't matter what age, sex, or height you are, if you are knowledgeable about your subject, people are eager to hear what you have to say."


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