This weekend I schlumped my way through my first ever legit conference. It was certainly an experience. 😉 Turns out almost everyone at that conference was just as socially awkward as I am—more, I’d say…which is kind of an accomplishment for me.
There was mumbling, speed-demon paper reading and random loitering around the wine table. There were circuitous questions and even more circuitous answers. There were uncomfortable chairs and a decided dearth of printed name tags for UNCG attendees.
I think I acquitted myself rather well for my first time out; I made sure to ask Dr. Bilinkoff about a dress code, so I didn’t inadvertently wear something trendy-business casual-cute while everyone else was decked out in tweeds and jeans. Most of the adults (panel chairs and keynoters) went hardcore professional, while grad students ranged from TBCC to jeans and blouses. Friday, I put a lot of thought into an outfit that could skew either way:
I thought the dark jeans (Dr. B said jeans were kosher, so long as they were nice jeans) and belted sweater were quite cute, but boy was I relieved when another grad student showed up in jeans and an adorable plaid scarf.
My first panel was pretty interesting, though I was too tired by 7:30 to really enjoy it. The presentations ranged from the inherent paradoxes of putting Aztec codices into book form (the irony of writing a paper about that made me snicker) to Inca Garcilaso de la Vega’s sneaky use of imagination in his Comentarios to force a European audience to participate in the very culture they were trying to annihilate. I saw one of my professors there, and he confused me a little when he pointed to his eye, smiled, and gave a thumbs up. Was that a “good to see grad students at relevant conferences”?? Oy.
The first speaker was a PhD candidate, and you could tell she was a bit nervous, but the material was interesting and she brought full color handouts of the codices, complete with closeups. The second speaker was obviously a pro at these things, since she even managed to make chuckle-worthy sotto voce observations about her paper. The third speaker’s paper was all over the place material-wise, but her accent (which was an intriguing combination of Italian, British, and Dutch) was worth the mental acrobatics it took to follow the concept of the 19th century Grand Tour everywhere she took it. I’ll confess that my notes aren’t really helpful for this speaker, probably because I was too bored by this point to bother.
Friday, I opted for slightly more formal, but kept the charcoal/black color scheme going since I’d be in panels and keynotes all day (literally….I went from 9:30 to 5 straight).:
I hate waking up in the morning. This is a fact of life, but I wanted to go to “Writing Identities” enough that I dragged myself to EUC. The first paper, which dealt with writing accounts of travels in Brazil, was pretty cool. Still, I was a little sad that no one made the connection to “How Tasty Is My Little Frenchman,” a craptastically awesome movie which you should all waste two hours of your lives watching.
Friday panel #2’s papers all had a wonderful, and apparently inadvertent, picaresque theme to them. The official subject was Atlantic World Literatures, which is about as broad as a panel topic can be, right?
Saturday, I only went to one keynote—and he was the *funniest* speaker of the whole conference, cracking Cervantes jokes and soccer/Virgin Mary one-liners throughout the whole talk. It only lasted an hour and a half, plus I was really tired, so I gave up and just wore a cami with jeans.
and PS: Why is it so extraordinary that Spain attributed their World Cup win to both God and the Virgin Mary?
She’s usually too booked up in Mexico to bother with anyone else (Ba-dum bum!)!