SAA: Really quite a nice conference
|I was unable to bring my computer to SAA, so my conference blogging will lack that special you-are-there immediacy. After all the bitterness of our RSA posts, I'm pleased to be able to report that SAA was great. Even though our hotel was a bit isolated, as it was in Miami, at least here we were isolated in a nice hotel with working elevators, nice conference rooms, and a great waterfront view. Oh, and there were significantly fewer hormone-addled youths running around making us feel old. In fact, there were a significant number of just plain addled elders shuffling around (with canes) making us feel young.|
I sat in on two seminars, as well as attending the one I was in (because I'm professional like that), and all three had some interesting papers, and some good conversation. One of the sessions I audited only had 8 or 9 members, and it seemed like it worked really well at that size, which bodes well for next year's experimental plan to add more seminars and keep them smaller. What worked in the seminars I saw was moving the discussion forward from the papers, with pointed questions (from groups or from leaders) beginning with the papers but then pushing elsewhere. What didn't work was having each person give a brief (ie, none-too-brief) precis of his or her paper, which usually just stalled the discussion and turned it into a series of one-on-one exchanges between a seminar leader and a seminar member. But I got a lot out of all three seminars, which is a personal record for me at SAA. There are only 3 slots for seminar attendance--which is one of the things I love about SAA--but each of the previous years I've gone, one of the three has been a complete waste of time for me, or else I've skipped one slot entirely.
I agree with Truewit about the presidential address. It did save itself with email humor, but it also wallowed far too long in romanticized visions of Others, be they learning to read, teaching their teachers about the true meaning of Shakespeare, or getting blown up by an IED--all of which somehow might be averted if we heed the lessons of Shakespeare more successfully, or teach Shakespeare more sensitively, or stock Iraqi bookstores with more copies of Shakespeare, or something .... In all seriousness, I know what our president was trying to say, and there were things I might actually agree with there, but man, did it come out all wrong or what?