University Scholar Student Racks up Eight Conference Paper Presentations

Feb. 3, 2011
News Photo 5051Stephen Margheim

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By the year's end, University Scholar Stephen Margheim will have presented eight conference papers on a variety of topics. Such a feat would be impressive for most tenured faculty.

However, Margheim is only a junior.

Originally a native of Alexandria, La., Margheim came to Baylor primarily for the University Scholars program, which allows students to pursue an individualized course of study at the guidance of a program director. The program accepts roughly 50 students per year, or less than 2 percent of the incoming class.

Like many University Scholars, Margheim was a National Merit Finalist.

"What I really wanted were the resources of a large research university combined with the interactions between students and professors of a smaller liberal arts university," he said. "Baylor has been really great in that respect."

Margheim has chosen a classics and philosophy concentration, and his papers often reflect his interests. He is also a Crane Scholar, a program specifically suited for gifted students who are interested in connections between knowledge, learning and Christian faith.

"Stephen is one of the brightest students I have taught at Baylor," said Dr. Alden Smith, classics professor and director of the University Scholars program. "He is excellent in both Greek and Latin and he is a very clever reader of ancient texts."

Margheim began researching for his first presentation the fall semester of his sophomore year.

Though he wasn't in any classes that allowed him to pursue a philosophy paper, he sought out classics professor Dr. Stephen Jones, now the classics department chair at Houston Baptist University.

"He mentored me on the inception of the Socrates idea," Margheim said. Jones helped guide Margheim through a semester's worth of research after his presentation's abstract was accepted by the Cornell Undergraduate Classics Conference.

Deciding he wanted to practice at a less high-profile event, Margheim found a conference in New Mexico dated earlier than the Cornell conference, and submitted a paper he had originally written for a class.

"When my paper was accepted, I wasn't nearly as nervous," he said. "[The New Mexico conference] was much smaller, and more low-key. I wasn't stressed. I had a great time and enjoyed the experience very much. It boosted my confidence."

Margheim searched the Internet for additional presentation opportunities. He will present "The Unexamined Text is not Worth Reading" at the Association for Core Texts and Courses Undergraduate Conference at Pepperdine University on March 4-6.

"I'll be discussing what it is about a great piece of literature that makes it so valuable for us to read," he said. "When we put the effort in to examine great texts, they offer us the possibility to examine ourselves. They are a mirror for self-examination and self-knowledge."

The following month, Margheim will present "Socrates and Reader: the Socratic Persona and Iser's Reader Response" at the Classical Association of the Middle West and South 107th Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids, Mich., April 6-9.

"I'd like to examine what it is about the character of Socrates that makes him so powerful," he said. "He is able to draw leaders toward this life of philosophy, which as he describes it, is quite extreme. I find it interesting to research a character that is not real, but can continue to draw out such real effects from people thousands of years later."

Margheim plans on attending graduate school to study classics, and then getting his doctorate to teach classics at the collegiate level.

"Stephen's high level of activity at scholarly conferences rivals that of our most productive faculty," said Dr. Thomas Hibbs, dean of the honors college. "It is a monument to hard work inspired by the love of learning."

Margheim said the only reason he's been able to excel is because of his dedication to improving his writing. This progress "has only come through my interactions with a number of professors who've made it a point to teach writing," he said.

"It takes a lot of time and practice to be good at writing, and the only way you can get better is if you have someone who knows how to write critique you," Margheim said. "Tons of Baylor professors are willing and able, but you have to seek them out and tell them you are interested."

He credited Dr. David Corey, associate professor of political science, and Dr. Julia Hejduk, associate professor of classics who teaches Latin at Baylor, for pushing his writing to the next level.

Margheim said he would continue to look for opportunities to present his papers throughout his academic career.

"It requires simply sending an e-mail," he said. "It's ridiculously easy and the rewards are excessively greater than the cost. Work on your writing, try it out - the worst case is, you get rejected over e-mail. And that's not all too bad."

Margheim's presentations:

1) New Mexico-West Texas Philosophical Society Meeting - From Alienation to

Fetishism: Marx's Philosophic and Economic Critique of Capitalism (27 March


2) Και Τα Λοιπα Cornell Undergraduate Classics Conference - Plato's Doubly

Mimetic Socrates: The Divided Line and the Socratic Persona (10 April 2010).

3) Frances White Ewbank Colloquium on CS Lewis and Friends - Truth and

Imagination in "Poetic Diction": Owen Barfield and C. S. Lewis's Great War (5 June 2010) -- Published in the INKLINGS FOREVER, VOLUME VII

4) SIUE's 5th Annual Undergraduate Philosophy Conference - The Socratic

Dramatis Persona and the Reading Experience (15 October 2010) -- perhaps to be published.

5) Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture: Human Dignity and the Future of

Health Care - After (Unified) Virtue: Socrates and the Health Care Debate (28

October 2010).

6) Phi Sigma Tau Student Symposium - The Socratic Dramatis Persona and the

Reading Experience (13 November 2010).

Upcoming presentations:

7) ACTC Core Texts Undergraduate Conference - The Unexamined Text is not Worth

Reading (March 4-6, 2011)

8) CAMWS 107th Annual Meeting in Grand Rapids, MI - Socrates and Reader: the

Socratic Persona and Iser's Reader Response (April 6-9,


by Susie Typher, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

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