Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Thoughts toward MLA 2006, Washington D. C.

The work in anticipation of the MLA Convention, 2005 paid awesome dividends in a great conference experience for me. I presented, along with three other panelists, on Friday morning at 8:30 a.m., and there were still more than twenty attendees in the audience. The scholarship was rewarding, and the Q/A that followed was lively. Pictured here from left to right are the panel chair and organizer, Sarah Bird Wright (Univ. of Richmond) - a delightfully wonderful woman, me, and Daisy Pignetti (Univ. of So. Florida) - a new friend and fellow blogger. The panel addressed the topic of "Weblogs as Witness" from a variety of angles; my work considered blogs as location for the formation of subjectivity and situated this discussion within a focus on Foucault and his work addressing the development of the ethical self. Daisy's presentation on weblogs as "Places for Students to Witness, Engage, and Reflect" seemed a perfect complement to the work I presented and provided a great close to our session.

Other highlights of the event included the opportunity to meet and visit briefly with those of some celebrity in my field: Mark Hanson, Katherine Hayles, and Matthew Kirschenbaum. Naive efforts on my part to find my way to the ELO social failed this time at the convention, but there's next year, and I've already started the proposal process for a special session on the place/space and the performative nature of digital literature underway for Philadelphia, 2006 - may the gods of magical funding shower blessings on me and my ambitious ideas.

As much as the thrill of presenting at MLA makes a mark for the emerging professional I am/am becoming, the respite of easy conversation with new friends from Kent State tops the list of good memories for me. Jeffrey Hammond, now teaching at Saint Mary's College of Maryland, talked books, computers, and the measures of success with me through an evening of friends stopping by "our" table to renew acquaintances and refresh friendships. Jeffrey became a friend that evening as did many of his company, and here I am particularly remembering Wayne Kvam and his lovely wife. Our paths will cross again on a good day - I am sure of it. Here's to you and yours, Jeff.

And that brings me to a moment of thanks before closing this post; thanks to the many others who support me in my continuing studies: Dr. Arkady Plotnitsky who first encouraged my bid for presenting at MLA, Dr. Jennifer Bay who never fails to put wind under my wings, Dr. Thomas Rickert for being among the first to see "a scholar" taking shape in me, and, of course, those without whom I would never have begun the adventure: James, Jenn, Abe, and Tommi (in this order because James in otherwise always last - w/a smile). There are so many others, but I'll trust each of you to know your names written and remembered in other, more lasting places. I thank you all even as I hear you answer in return, "This is only the beginning." And what a beginning it has been!

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4 comments:

Winston said...

Welcome back! Three posts in a day - wow - you're making up for lost time...

Guess it's time for me to finish up the feedback on my homework assignment. Soon...

Brenda said...

Your work sounds most fascinating. I hope you'll post more about, oh, subjectivity, Foucault, an ethical self, in the coming months...

It sounds like a wonderful conference and inspiring!

Sentinel 47 said...

Just wish I could have been there with you!

metablogger said...

Thanks for posting a pic! I'll link to this post ASAP! Did Chandra leave a comment for you to point you to the Chronicle piece that mentioned our session yesterday? It's in my blog.