Friday, April 8, 2011

G is for Gah!

Today is G-day for the A-Z challenge.

My title is (somewhat) tongue-in-cheek. Yesterday I detailed how I am attending an early British literature conference this weekend.  Keep in mind that I am a creative writer and if pressed to identify a period of literature with which I most identify, or with which I have most experience, it would definitely be contemporary. Or at the very least, 20th Century.

I am way, way, way out of my league here.

I've read the requisite Beowulf, Chaucer, Gawain and the Green Knight. I've even read and written papers on some Arthurian romances, on The Seafarer, and even on Lady Mary Wroth's sonnet series, "Pamphilia and Amphilanthus."

But today was a seriously long day filled with tediously constructed papers on both the well-known as well as some fairly obscure early Brit lit. You know things are going downhill when, in a room filled with people for whom early Brit Lit is their lifeblood, you can look around and count the number of people nodding off.

I wondered if that was standard behavior for these kinds of conferences, having not attended many. Because once the day was over, all I heard was, "today was a great day," and "those were fascinating papers," and "I was impressed by the depth of research and discussion."  How would they know if they snoozed through parts of it?

I'll admit that some of the papers were really good. But a lot of them I got lost in elevated language and grandiosity. And that's probably more a function of my lack of understanding or familiarity with the subject matter than the scholarship involved. I'm sure everyone else in the room followed along just fine. When they were awake.

I would much rather have gone to a writing conference than a literature conference. Unfortunately, I didn't find any nearby that I could afford or were interesting enough. Although after today, I may just have to adjust my definition of interesting.

So what's your experience been with these kinds of academic conferences?

5 comments:

Sarah said...

A few of my literature textbooks in college were like this. More interested in the number of grandiose terms and elitist vocab words they could squeeze in than actually presenting any worthwhile information. Sometimes I felt like I had to read them with a decoder ring, only to find out that they used the most complex manner possible in which to describe the simplest of concepts. It makes me crazy, because it's so self indulgent.

And I have a relatively high tolerance for wordy stuff.

Sarah Mäkelä said...

I really like early British literature. Those were some of my favorite classes. I've never been to an academic conference like that though. Writing conferences, Renaissance festivals, etc., yes.

I've heard about those from professors back when I was in college, and honestly, I'd rather go to something more laid back and fun.

Hannah Kincade said...

I have not been to such a conference but even writing conferences hurt my brain. So much informations!

Donna Hole said...

lol; sleeping through literature, who would think it :)

Well, at least you were able to focus on something. Maybe you could write an article about it.

......dhole

Tessa Conte said...

Never been to one but I did sleep through quite a few law lectures...