South Park Self

everyone's a critic

This was a very well-run conference, with oodles of information and maps and planning to within an inch of its life (e.g. your sign-up for the conference dinner was confirmed on a separate sheet in the conference folder, personalised to you, with a map and directions and a reminder of the menu choices you'd made in July when you signed up, and had promptly forgotten.) It was a big conference for this particular discipline, two and a half days with three or four simultaneous tracks and four keynote speakers, and I think the overall quality suffered as a result - there were some very basic and/or arbitrary papers. However, the people are uniformly lovely (the organiser commented that in his experience fairy tale theorists are much more pleasant to deal with than postcolonialists. I bet.)

Good stuff: my paper was a lot more successful, still a few minutes over time with some bits cut out, but I did manage to give an overall sense of my argument rather than having to strangle it in mid-flow. (I think the 40-minute-paper luxury from my keynote earlier this year has reset my mental sense of paper length, but I am slowly reasserting my grip). People said nice things about it. I think my book or other papers were referenced five or six times by speakers in the tracks I attended, which means the overall cite-count must have been fairly high (*is smug*). Various people sought me out specifically to burble enthusiastically about shared interests. I met my editor, who is a lovely man and wants me to do more encyclopedia entry stuff for him. And - this has totally made my trip - Marina Warner, who was the biggest name keynote speaker, asked him to point me out (I forgot my nametag this morning and was wandering around in an anonymous daze), and came over to introduce herself and say she found my encyclopedia entries particularly useful. A nice hot cup of validation from a legend in my field really doesn't hurt at all. (Her talk was wonderful - she does a very characteristic synthesis of ideas and images across an incredibly broad front, and was talking about Lotte Reiniger silhouette animation, which has always enchanted me completely). I am, on the whole, stimulated and fired with new ideas, plans, scribbled lists of interesting new texts with which to cripple my credit card, and happenstance sparked connections, together with a realisation that actually as a critic I'm OK, and probably do better than about two-thirds of the speakers I heard. (I score big because I don't read a paper, I deliver it extemporaneously from the written version, which means people engage instead of switching off).

Bad stuff: this B&B doesn't have internet, and the BT temporary account I bought suffered from wireless transmitter crash for all of yesterday, causing the usual internet withdrawal. The Big Cheese critic who I met at the Ghent conference cut me absolutely dead in this one. (Bugger him, anyway. I'm still a good scholar). The convivial conference dinner last night featured Italian food that violently disagreed with me, so today I'm pale and feeble and severely short on sleep. Oh, and I'm booked home tomorrow on Lufthansa, who are having a strike.

However, in mitigation, I get to watch the second Doctor Who episode of the season tonight. On balance, it's definitely been a good trip.
  • Current Mood: apathetic tired and pale
aargh! I completely forgot we were having that conversation in the comments on another post about meeting up in London. I am a bear of very little brain while travelling. My apologies.

Marina Warner, however, ineffably cool, and I thank you for the raised glass :>.
Lord, yes. They tend to take themselves desperately seriously. The nice thing about the majority of fairy tale critics is that you only have to prod them gently for the suave academic facade to dissolve, revealing the shameless fan beneath. Most of us do at least some kind of pop culture with a high degree of enjoyment.