09 May 2009

Kalamazoo thoughts

You know you're a grown-up, academically speaking, when you're giving a talk and feel relieved when you see your dissertation committee in the audience: whatever they think of your shortcomings, you've already been through it with them. Those who were Dissertation Dragons make a pleasant distraction from the scattering of Grand Old Scholars who have also turned up.

Many Grand Old Scholars, of course, are quite kind.

It is possible to amuse your audience by admitting you have stolen images from other people's blogs. It is also possible to make your co-presenters feel smug about having low-tech handouts that do not require frantic calls to the IT people for help.

Organizing a series of sessions will sometimes feel like more trouble than it is worth, and yet the results can be good enough to make it all seem worthwhile. Such feelings are dangerous, as is doing a good job with the organization. As Lois McMaster Bujold observes, the reward for a job well done is usually another job.

By Saturday night, Thursday may have disappeared completely from memory, even without the aid of alcoholic memory-destroyers.

Kalamazoo, for me, is usually simultaneously exhausting and inspiring. I want to go off and write several papers at once, but arrive home too tired to do much for a couple of days. I think it would be great to have it (or some medieval conference) arranged differently: it should last a week, with one session of papers per day, then time free to write, and social activities in which to talk over ideas and plot new sessions for next year. Or maybe even for the same year, with people writing their papers one afternoon and giving them the next morning (oh, wait, isn't that what happens already?).

1 comment:

medieval woman said...

Didn't feel smug, just like I'd killed a bunch of trees! ;) But it was a really good presentation and the slides were delightful - so lovely to see you again!