Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Mandatory conferences

Well, the decree has come from California: I've got to go to Newfoundland for ISAS this July. It's not that I'm not interested in seeing Newfoundland, it's just that the travelling will be so long and complex, and when I get there I will be surrounded by Anglo-Saxonists. I know many Anglo-Saxonists of whom I am fond as individuals but en masse they do not thrill me. At least it's a proper conference with proper intelligent papers, unlike Kalamazoo -- WHICH I ALSO HAVE TO ATTEND!

There's an Anne Tyler book called the Accidental Tourist which has a character who goes around writing travel books for people who would rather be at home. It tells them where they can get a good burger (this being an American book) in all sorts of obscure places. I wouldn't go that far, and I certainly don't want to pretend I'm still in Cambridge. But some guidance would be helpful. Most people who go to Newfoundland presumably have decided to go there, so they already know why they want to be there. I'd like to know what I might enjoy in Newfoundland. I understand the local accent is endearing, and I might see some whales. But some more help would be good.

The programme for Kalamazoo is out now. My session is at 8.30 on the Sunday morning. Not only does this mean that no one will come, making the whole exercise even more pointless, but I can't leave before the Saturday night disco like I did last time. I could always not go to the disco -- but I fear I will turn up to revolt myself at the sight of all those professors dancing revoltingly with their conference wives, or with oddly-flattered postgraduates. I think I will arrive half-way through the week since I can't leave early, though this does mean I will miss such papers as "Holy Shitheads: The Path of Unreason and “Wasted” Thought in Medieval Saints" (shouldn't there be a "' Lives" on the end there?), "Our Father’s Eggs: The Use of the Paternoster as a Medieval Timing Device", and "The Pleasures of Fecopoet[h]ics". Looking through I find that all the usual suspects are there. There's enough Tolkien that you could probably get through the whole conference without encountering any other author, and more papers (i.e. some) on Elvish than on Welsh. (Elvish is essentially Welsh, but Welsh is a real language with real medieval texts in it.) Of course there are also mentions of the Buffyverse, J.K. Rowling, online RPGs, the blogosphere, and 9/11. There's also a paper on that YouTube clip of some people rapping Chaucer, and quite a lot about Angelina Jolie. Will I survive the experience with any remaining feeling of connection to academia? I think I'm using the term "academia" here deliberately in opposition to the term "scholarship". Scholarship I still love; I'd like to be a scholar.

1 comment:

  1. I still have some unnerving flashbacks to the Classical Association conference in Liverpool and the conference 'disco'. Not good. Not good at all.