Alice Bi Presents Virtually at 2020 Culture Mapping Symposium

May 4, 2020

For the past month UMD English has been following stories of student and faculty resilience in the age of COVID-19. A standout story of flexibility and triumph came from UMD student Alice Bi, a sophomore double-majoring in English (Literary & Cultural Studies track) and International Relations.

Alice BiAlice was set to present at the Culture Mapping 2020 Symposium, hosted by New York University and covering digital mapping in cultural studies. Her presentation analyzed the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges’ short story “On Exactitude in Science” using post-structuralist frameworks of simulation and remediation.

Alice proposed rewriting “On Exactitude in Science” in post-structuralist terms, and then using that rewritten text as a theoretical map to guide how we think about our lives, given the social media landscape.

With the COVID outbreak closing events down around the world, the NYU symposium too moved its presenters online.
“I was originally meant to present in person, which I'd been excited about,” says Alice. In the end “...I recorded my presentation on a camera facing my laptop, then sent it to the organizers.”

Being an international student, Alice had flown home to Taipei after the University of Maryland’s campus shut down, which was where she recorded the presentation.

“It took two flight cancellations, three weeks of self-quarantine, and a lot of worrying; but I’m glad I had the opportunity to share my work.”

Pivoting online presented Alice with a number of challenges: a lack of interaction between presenters and audiences, a twelve-hour time difference, and an inability to take part in discussion questions with the other panelists.

Borges Presentation

Despite the setbacks and time-intensive efforts, Alice is ultimately glad she was still able to present at the symposium.

“I wanted to prove that I had something new to contribute to the literary discourse,” she says. “I’m grateful for the people who have supported me in navigating both the presentation and this pandemic--specifically, my mentor  and instructor Brandy Williams, who introduced me to the symposium and patiently guided me throughout its process.”

Borges Presentation