I’m back from the Modern Language Association, having spent this past Wednesday (all day), Thursday (all day), and Friday (all morning) in the northeast part of Washington DC. I spent most of Wednesday hanging out with the Bunny, Boxing Alcibiades, and his two cousins: Food, museum, more museum, food. ::happy snoopy dance::
Thursday was my busy day. Because I was superduper selective, the panels that I saw were all good.
Panel 389: Social Fantasy
With the exception of the first paper, “Musical Elements in Huxley’s _Brave New World_” (unoriginal and boring), the remaining two papers, “Women and Space: I Dream of Jeannie,” and “The Singularity Is Here: Rapture for Nerds” were really interesting as well as funny.
Panel 447: “Pop Culture and the War on Terror”
All three papers were provocative, interesting, and just way cool, even with the waaaaaay-to-the-left bias: “Apocalypse and Democracy,” “A Dual Satire: _Team America: World Police_,” and “Virtual(ly) Torture: Videogames, AI, and the War on Terror”
Panel 628: “Prison Shakespeare”
Three presentations from three academics/teachers who conduct Shakespeare studies and drama performances with incarcerated criminals. Lots of video, lots of personal stories, all of which impressed the hell outta me. Makes me want to make Shakespeare a *requirement* for every community college students out there. “Shakespeare saved my life,” said one of the prisoners. Dang!
Panel 668: “Web Logs as Witness” (this was Friday morning)
Four academics, all looking at four very different kinds of blogs: personal blogs about women’s struggles with infertility, craft-oriented blogs from Chinese-American women from all over the world, personal blogs from elderly folks, and student-oriented blogs from a freshman composition class. Not surprisingly, I *really* related with the latter.
In addition to the panels, I picked up some National Endowment for the Humanities grant info from the grant info table (it was supposed to be staffed, but nobody was there, dagnabit!). I spent many hours but not-many monies (whew!) among the book exhibitors — one of them actually invited me to a booksellers-only cocktail party thingie, which I conditionally accepted with “I’ll see if I can make it,” but didn’t go. (He was nice but looked, well, kinda desperate. If you know what I mean.) Instead, I went to a MLA-members-only preview showing of _Tristram Shandy: a Cock and Bull Story_ which was really good. Not awesome, but surprisingly good, in keeping with the spirit and some of the text and images of the book, which is damn hard to do since the book is a Menippean Satire, i.e., really doesn’t have a coherent, linear plot. I even ran into a familiar face, this young Ph.D named Elan whom I met this past May in the medieval conference in Kalamazoo, MI. He was only there for MLA’s sponsored job fair, but it was good to see a familiar person at the MLA conference, especially since this was my first one.
In my posh hotel room, I swam in a ginormous king-sized bed (it could’ve fit four of me) and used up most of the spendy hotel shampoo in a hot bubble bath while listening to music and reading a book. I even got to see the weirdness that is Adult Swim, which I don’t usually see since I don’t have cable. I had lamb vindaloo at a tiny Indian restaurant and cafe lattes at a local cap bar — NOT the hotel Starbucks, thank you very much.
Also, it’s good to use a public metro system that’s actually logical and reliable.
All in all, a good experience. I may go back next year — I dunno. We’ll see what the future holds!
Speaking of the future, have a Happy New Year, everybody!