A few thoughts regarding ASECS 2005:
- Giles Bergel, Katherine Ellison, and Eve Tavor Bannet each gave a stellar paper on the panel I chaired. As an added bonus, there was a good-sized audience for that panel, and they asked a number of insightful questions. Be on the lookout for Bannet’s forthcoming book, Empire of Letters: Letter Manuals and Transatlantic Correspondence, 1680ñ1820. I do not know what Bergel and Ellison have in the pipline with regard to publishing their work, but those of you interested in book history would do well to keep an eye out for these names, and those of you interested in scholars doing a long history of information technology and media studies should attend particularly to Ellison’s work.
- My new favorite way to read my papers at conferences is to blow up the font size, turn them into PDFs and read them off my laptop with Adobe Acrobat in full-screen mode. It’s much, much easier than reading from paper, even if it’s more time consuming to create and doesn’t allow you the leeway of last-minute additions, deletions, or marginalia. People tend to frown upon reading from latops. Why is this? Do they think it’s evidence that you’ve been working it right up to the conference? This would be bad because…? To pre-empt any frowning-uponing, I explained my composition process (longhand on a legal pad, then typed into a word processor, then converted to PDF) and why I use the laptop. I wasn’t just being self-indulgent with this quick little preface, however; I was giving an example of cultural associations we have with technologies of communication and linking the example to the work that I do in the eighteenth century.
- My professional network is growing bit by bit. I have to work at this aspect of academic life, but it seems to be getting easier. One task I hope to fulfill this week is email followups with all the people I talked to. For example, I made an agreement with one person to exchange writing (like, right now), and I need to get that article draft in the mail to her.
- The grad student who corresponded with me about my diss came up to me to introduce herself. She said–approximately…I’d had a few drinks at the reception at this point–“Someone told me I should look into your work, and I wanted to introduce myself to you.” Wow. I really need to wake up to the fact that people notice and respect the work I do, that I’m not a fraud who’s masquerading his way through this, and that there are things I know and know how to do that can be helpful to people who are not as far along in their development as academics as I am. One person I met told me she’d been reading my blog for a year and was actually kind of intimidated by my authoritative persona. Really? Hmm. Even when you found out I can’t even get my own university to give me summer research money?
- As much as things have been bothering me the last few months, talking with colleagues from all over has reminded me of the things in my (personal and professional) life that are quite good. Getting stuck in the imagined narrative trajectory of your life can be intensely counterproductive. Author your way out of it and into another.
- If you’ve attended 5 hours of papers being read from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., that’s probably enough for one day.
- At the conference book exhibit, I took advantage of the 50% display copy discount to acquire Sensory Worlds in Early America by Peter Charles Hoffer, (a book with an
Amazon page that led me to another interesing find: How Early America Sounded, by Richard Cullen Rath.)
- Someone who only knew what I look like from this pic said, “Oh, I wouldn’t have recognized you without the blonde hair.” And I replied, “Yeah, it looks kind of boring, now, doesn’t it?” I need to get something tattooed or pierced, maybe.
- When waiting to use one of the hotel business center computers to check email, I noticed someone was writing an entry up for her LiveJournal site. Catching the username, I read her site when it was my turn to use the computer. She’s an ASECS attendee, too. Was this unethical of me to look? I wouldn’t have tried to see what the username (or even what she was typing at all) if I hadn’t recognized the distinctive LiveJournal interface from a distance.
- The business center printer wasn’t working at all during the conference. That’s convenient. A little too convenient, if you ask me.
And so to bed.