MLA Day Two: In which I attend no sessions
|Ah, MLA, filled with intellectual exchange, vibrant debate, and knowledge to be gained. Unless you decide to skip all sessions that you had considered attending on day two and instead to eat, drink, and visit your book at the book exhibit.|
Visiting one's book is, I believe, a time-honored but usually sub rosa tradition at the MLA. It works something like this. First, you publish a book. That's the hard part. But the next part is not easy--that is, if you want to avoid abject embarrassment. You have to sidle up to your publisher's booth, taking off your convention badge beforehand, and remain unobtrusive so that your publisher does not recognize you and say hello to you by name. While you are pretending to browse through your publisher's fine collection of books by Other People Who Are Not You, you can sneak sidelong glances at Your Book to discern, in ascending order of importance,
If you attempt to judge me and pretend to be shocked by my behavior, claiming you have never done such a thing, I can only conclude that you have not yet published a book. Because I am convinced that everybody does this, and have seen many people doing it.
After going to the book exhibit, I had the misfortune of meeting a friend in the central circular lobby of the Philadelphia Marriott. Ugh. This is not the place to wait for someone. Everyone you don't want to see will walk by in the span of ten minutes and engage you in conversation. And then a large number of famous scholars will walk by and make you feel quite small.
So I have nothing of merit to report today. But I can give you a brief list of new books that I may order at the conference discount:
Kenneth Gross, Shylock Is Shakespeare (Chicago)
Seth Lerer, Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language (Columbia)
Will Fisher, Materializing Gender in Early Modern English Literature and Culture (Cambridge)
Margreta de Grazia, Hamlet without Hamlet (Cambridge)