WICL-5: From on-site to synchronous webinar conference welcoming the world
The 5th Workshop on Innovations in Cantonese Linguistics (WICL-5) was planned for Sunday, April 19, 2020, on the Ohio State campus. Instead, COVID-19 led to its reconceptualization as a synchronous, virtual event consisting of three parallel webinars. In order to accommodate presenters in both North America and East Asia, crossing 15 time zones, WICL-5 was split into Saturday evening (EDT), from 5:30 p.m. until midnight, and Sunday morning, from 9:00 a.m. to noon. According to the organizers, to their knowledge, this was the first Chinese linguistics conference in the world to be held as a synchronous webinar event.
The program (available at u.osu.edu/wicl/wicl-5/) consisted of two plenary sessions, with keynote speakers, Prof. Genevieve Leung (University of San Francisco) and Prof. Roxana Suk-Yee Fung (Hong Kong Polytechnic University); 9 regular sessions totaling 27 presentations; plus a pedagogy panel with 5 presentations that was organized and chaired by Prof. Dana Scott Bourgerie (Brigham Young University).
The keynote speakers and presenters—representing the US, Canada, Scotland, China, Hong Kong and Vietnam— were from 27 institutions (12 in the US, 3 in Canada, 1 in Scotland, 2 in China, 8 in Hong Kong and 1 in Vietnam).
Free and open to the public, WICL-5 attracted more than 200 registrants from all over the world. “While not everyone who registered attended the conference, it is clear that all the sessions were well attended, with meticulously-prepared presentations followed by rigorous, intellectual discussions,” said organizer Prof. Marjorie Chan.
The three synchronous webinars were manned by Profs. Marjorie Chan, Mineharu Nakayama and Zhiguo Xie, together with six graduate students, Skylor Gomes (tech leader), Jinwei Ye, Wei William Zhou, Yuhong Zhu, Seojin Yang and Junyu Ruan.
WICL-5 was supported by the Graduate Association of Chinese Linguistics, Graduate Students of East Asian Languages and Literatures, Department of Linguistics and Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures. It was sponsored in part by a US Department of Education Title VI grant to The Ohio State University East Asian Studies Center.
(Source: EASC expOSUre 2019-2020 issue, page 9)