The Conference

Well, can I just say that I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed? I had a nice weekend, but upon returning home last night, I felt that I needed a weekend to recover from my weekend. But I did not get one. No, I had to face one of the busiest days of my semester so far. So I’m tired and a bit disgruntled.

I must say that although I enjoyed myself on Saturday once I got involved in the conference itself, traveling on Friday was kind of miserable. I used to love air travel; I loved people watching in airports, and I loved all the time to read on the plane. Now I just dread it all. I didn’t want to leave home, and I felt the whole trip was stupid — a stupid conference, a stupid paper, and a stupid idea to travel during a busy part of the semester.

But I perked up once I got there. I didn’t see much of Albuquerque, since most of my time was taken up with conference things, but I did get a chance to walk through the old town section of the city, 10 or 12 blocks of restaurants, cute shops, and historical locations. That was on Friday evening.

Saturday I spent the whole day at the University of New Mexico campus, listening to papers and giving my own. The conference was on eighteenth-century women writers, and the best part about it was hearing about books and authors I’m now newly inspired to read. There were a lot of papers on Aphra Behn and Eliza Haywood, both of whom I’d like to read more of, particularly Haywood’s novel The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, a book that is a predecessor of Burney’s and Austen’s novels. I also heard a paper on Sarah Fielding’s novel The History of Ophelia that made me want to get a copy ASAP. Both of those books are published by Broadview Press, a wonderful publishing company that puts out editions of lesser-known works; just check out their 18C selection to see how great they are.  I came away from the conference with the feeling that there is so much good reading to be had from the 18C; compared to the average reader, I’ve read a lot in the area, I suppose, but there is so much more!  And I’m still working my way through Dale Spender’s book, which has greatly increased my list of novels I’d like to read from the time period.

My panel went well. People laughed as I read my paper; I find this interesting because I never would have guessed that my paper was funny in any way at all. It wasn’t my writing that was funny, really, but rather the quotations from the novel I was discussing (Sarah Fielding’s The Adventures of David Simple). It’s fascinating the way that having an audience can bring out aspects of a paper I had no idea were there. I didn’t really get any questions about my paper (a part of the whole process that’s quite scary, as you have no idea what you’ll be hit with), but my panel (there were three of us) and the audience had a good discussion afterward, and I got some nice comments.

It was a small conference and very friendly — unlike some conferences where people are snooty and mean and only want to talk with the important people and take every opportunity to show off. So I hung out with some other conference-goers on Saturday night and we had a good dinner and a couple bottles of wine and I didn’t get enough sleep that night.

And now I’m here, back home trying to recover. Maybe I’ll have a chance to rest next weekend??

16 Comments

Filed under Books, Life

16 responses to “The Conference

  1. Glad the conference went well and your paper was well received. I know what you mean about air travel. Unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil. You are making me want to read more 18c writers. Your enthusiasm is infectious :)

  2. hepzibah

    Hi Dorothy! I’m so glad that your back!

    I’m glad your conference went well! It sounds like a lot of fun, and your paper sounds amazing! I love when the audience responds well, if feels good that others can relate.

    I am going to Kentucky in the spring, and I am so excited about it. I can’t wait!

  3. It is AWFUL going to conferences during the semester, isn’t it?!? I quite share your feelings–but I’m glad your paper went so well, it sounds excellent…

  4. I’m glad the conference went well. I have a love/hate relationship with the question/answer period after. I hope you can get some time to relax a bit in the coming days (isn’t it amazing how much weekends really do matter? I always think that I get nothing done, but sometimes, that’s the point I guess) :)

  5. It sounds like it went really well, Dorothy! It’s very rare to get decent questions so my rule of thumb is to be glad if I don’t get any crashingly stupid ones! So pleased to know that it was a friendly, intimate kind of event and that you have come away with a long reading list!

  6. I also feel like I reading some 18th century fiction after reading your post. I’ve heard a lot about Aphra Behn but never read anything by her. She sounds interesting though. Something else for the ‘to be read’ pile.

    Glad the conference went well.

  7. You seem to have had a lot of fun! Conferences seem to be a very interesting opportunity to discover new authors, I’ve never read any of those you mentioned.

  8. Glad to hear you had fun in the end and that your paper went down well. Perhaps you could do one of those 100-mile bike rides to recover!

  9. I’m glad your conference went well, and it certainly sounds as though the subject matter was very interesting. :-)

    I’m terrified at the thought of giving a paper, not because of the public speaking (which I perversely enjoy) but because of the Q&A afterwards. *shivers* I’ve been invited to give my first one next year…not at a conference but, even worse, as part of the Jewish Historical Society of England lecture series in London. I’m scared to death!

  10. Conferences are always so exhausting but so exhilarating as well. I’m new to your site, Dorothy, but I take it from your post that you research in 18c Lit? It’s an area I know very little about (I’m a narrative organisation person, myself) but now I have more time on my hands I’m looking to fill gaps. Where would you suggest I start?

  11. I admire your ability to take all this in stride! It sounds like you made the best of a stressful situation. I think I wouldn’t make it past the speaking part, let alone answering questions, but as this is your field it sounds like it all went really well. It would be great listening to people present their papers though–and getting all those great new author/book suggestions. It’s probably a great relief now that it is done, though?!

  12. Glad to hear the conference went well and your reading was a success! As much as I love to travel, the return is always exhausting for me. Hope you get some relaxation time soon.

  13. Thank you Stefanie; yes, travel can be a necessary evil, but I could really get out of going to these conferences if I wanted to, so it’s always a dilemma for me — is the pain worth the accomplishment of having done it?

    Hepzibah — well, congratulations on going to Kentucky! I look forward to hearing about it — what is the conference?

    Jenny — truly awful!! It takes me SO long to recover …

    Sarah — yes, the Q&A can be good and lively and interesting — but what stress!

    Litlove — you’re right about good questions and I am lucky not to have gotten any stupid ones, or any of those show-off-y ones that are all about the questioner and not about the presenter. I hate those!

    Jess — I’d start with Oroonoko, if you are interested in reading Behn, or perhaps with her play The Rover. She’s quite great!

    Smithereens — yes, I like that about conferences, that they can be inspiring — if only they weren’t also scary!

    Charlotteotter — hah! A 100-mile bike ride would probably make me feel much better! :)

    Victoria — well, congratulations on the invitation; it sounds like quite a honor to be asked, and I’m sure you will be fabulous! I love to hear your work.

    Ann — Yes, the 18C is what I study. I’m curious about narrative organization — what exactly does it mean? About starting in the 18C, I have a post on it here: http://ofbooksandbikes.wordpress.com/2006/06/20/on-the-18c-novel/. That lists some of my favorites.

    Danielle — yes, it is a relief! I appear to take things in stride, but inwardly I can get quite terrified. I much prefer listening to others than talking myself.

    Iliana — thank you! Life should get a bit slower now, and maybe I’ll catch up on sleep soon … :)

  14. Glad to hear it went well. And now, looks like I’ve got some more books to read…

  15. LK

    Congratulations! Sounds wonderful.

    By the way, I read Eliza Haywood’s Love in Excess, which I heartily recommend. I want to read Betsy Thoughtless, too.

  16. Thanks for the re-direction, Dorothy. When I look at that list I find I know most of those anyway. It is the lesser known writers that you mention that I’m really interested in so I’ll do a trawl of your posts and make a list from those you’ve mentioned. What is Narrative Organisation? It probably needs a post on my own site to even start to explain, but briefly it’s to do with the way in which authors choose to organise the events that make up the story they’re telling in order to turn it into a narrative that has shape and purpose. The analytical tools I use come from the world of linguistics but because it’s narratives I’m studying I sit between the two disciplines, literature and language studies. An added dimension in my case is that I’ve worked extensively in the filed of Children’s Literature so it tends to be narratives for children that I work with. Does that help?

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