Westridge Students Prepare for the Voices In Literature and Culture Conference

Sophia L.

The official poster art for the 7th Annual VLCC, another artistic interpretation on the theme "The Power of Voice" provided by a Westridge student volunteer.

By Emerson L.
April 23, 2019

The 7th Voices in Literature and Culture Conference tomorrow (04/24/2019) is an annual chance to see literature, visual art, and students from fresh perspectives. A yearly opportunity for Westridge students to present their ideas and analysis to teachers and other students, the conference is organized by Westridge’s English teachers Dr. Jessica Bremmer, Ms. Tarra Stevenson, and Ms. Molly Yurchak. The conference is linked with the Perspectives in Literature English elective, but any Westridge student can submit art and presentation proposals. Essays, poetry, music, visual art of any medium, videos, and performance pieces are all ways for students to make their voices heard at the conference. Discussion panels are created around accepted pieces.


The Perspectives elective is an interdisciplinary course in which students approach literature from different perspectives. Built around a yearly theme like “weapons” or “monsters,” the class explores the theme through analysis of classic and contemporary works. Enrolled students are required to submit papers to and present at the conference, as well as help moderate and organize panels.


This year, Ms. Molly Yurchak taught Perspectives and helped organize the conference for the first time, though she has taught English at Westridge for years. There are also a few other new changes. The English Department received an unusual number of physical art submissions this year, necessitating the addition of an art gallery in the Commons to the VLCC. Also, the conference theme is not the same as Perspectives, which has not been the case since the elective was created.


“[The theme] was a little bit different because the title of this Perspectives class is ‘Listening to the Voices of Black Women in the United States,’ which is very specific…We really try to have a broad theme for the conference that any Westridge student could approach and say, ‘Yeah, I have something to say about that.’ So, because we're listening to [black female] voices in the class, we used ‘voices,’ and we made the theme ‘The Power of Voice,’” explained Yurchak.


The conference organizers invite contributions from every Westridge student. A couple months before the conference, the English Department sends out an email blast requesting presentation proposals and volunteers. Twenty-eight non-Perspectives students are contributing this year, including Middle School students.


Activist and attorney Nicole C. Lee will be the featured keynote speaker at the VLCC. Lee has previously served as the first female president of TransAfrica, a prominent African-American foreign affairs organization, and helped found the Black Movement Law Project, a legal support organization for activists and communities affiliated with the Movement for Black Lives. The keynote was another aspect organized by Ms. Yurchak, as her and Lee are childhood friends. Lee will be speaking “about how she found her voice and how she has figured out how to use her voice for social justice,” according to Yurchak.


The 7th Annual Voices in Literature and Culture Conference is Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at Westridge School for Girls. All students are welcome. Nicole C. Lee’s keynote is at 2:40. Panels begin at 3:10.