Sunday, January 01, 2006

Back from MLA

I'm back from MLA. Unlike a number of people I like the conference. Its timing isn't the best for most people, but as we don't have kids and as my wife isn't allowed time off between Christmas and New Years thanks to the end of the year rush of people who want to use up their insurance benefits for eye exams and glasses, we can't do much of anything the last week of the year. MLA is big and it is diverse, and therefore thin, in its offerings for any one subject, it's a great big smorgasbord for me: rhetoric, medieval literature, composition studies, digital studies, medievalism, textual studies, science fiction and fantasy, Scottish literature, professional issues, philology and linguistics.... Generally, my problem is figuring out which panel I'm going to go to and which time slots I'm going to attend. Three or four sessions a day is my limit, and with MLA offering up to 8 sessions a day (8:30 AM - 10:00 PM), that's a lot to miss.

I'll write more about the conference and type up some of my notes over the next few days. Unfortunately, as I don't have a laptop to carry around and remind me, I'm still not in the habit of taking notes to blog sessions, though I did much better job of taking notes than I have in the past (i.e., I can actually blog about some of the sessions this time around). But, for now:

Sessions I went to:
1: A Preconvention Workshop for Job Seekers: The Job Search In English
8: The Subject of Composition
118: Indexing for the MLA International Bibliograpy
148: Alternative Models for Writing Programs: A Critical Conversation
214: Old English Poetry: Bodies, Aesthetics, and Sexual Difference
291: Cash Bar Arranged by the Division on Old English Language and Literature
418: Indexing Scholarly Web Sites in the MLA International Bibliograpy
541: Old English Literature and Its Celtic and Scandinavian Affinities
600: The State of American Writing: Perspectives Popular and Professional
662: Anglo-Saxon Manuscript Culture and the Visual Imagination

Sessions I really wanted to attend but didn't:
42: Chaucer "after Theory"
58: Innovation through Tradition: Medieval Perspectives on Textual Authority
110: Situated Rhetorics
149: The Poetic Line in the Age of New Media
157: Siðakipti: Spirituality and Change in Old Norse Literature
168: Braw Lads and Bonnie Lasses: Gendering Scotland
173: Revisiting Intention through Rhetoric
222: Troilus and Criseyde
224: Outside in the Archival Machine: Graduate Student Scholarship and the Archive
226: Literary Representations of Historical Medieval Women
232: New Media and Literary Criticism
262: The Language of Soundscape: "Rhythm Science" and Reading Electronic Music
265: Byron, Scotland, and the Scots
269: What Video Games Teach Us about Literature
329: Ancient Rhetorics and Contemporary Pedagogies
351: Electronic Journals 2005
383: The World Wide Web as Metamedium
408: Ranges and Reaches of Early Middle English
443: New Technologies of Literary Investigation: Digital Demonstrations
465: Comparative Spirituality: Old and Middle English Texts and Traditions
470: Electronic Media in Nineteenth-Century American Studies
484: Who Owns Composition?
493: Digital Scholarly Publishing: Beyond the Crisis
496: Literary Theory and the Electronic Text
511: Editing New Media
516: Taking It Digital: Teaching Literature in the Twenty-First Century
519: Scale and Scholarship in the Digital Humanities
534: Language Theory and the Cognitive Sciences
567: Early Modern Science Fiction
599: Writing Program Administration and (Multi)Media
625: New Angles on Graphic Narratives
665: Textual Analysis: What's Data Got to Do with It?
669: Troubling the Tradition: Intersections of Literature and Composition
675: Anthropology, Archaeology, and Medieval Texts
678: Studying How Genres Change
704: The Verbal and Visual: Images within and between Texts

Looking at what I missed by choice (as opposed to because of conflict) is depressing. There really was just too much. I'll write up some summaries of sessions later.


At 8:19 AM, Blogger Clancy said...

Hey! I'm happy to see this post; I really enjoyed MLA too. I don't see why other people are so down on it.

At 9:30 AM, Blogger John said...

I don't totally get it either. That was my third MLA, and other than when it’s held, I haven't found the common critiques of the conference to have much validity. Maybe it's the sessions I go to. In fact, the only hostile comment I heard was a session organizer bashing the MLA for not supporting rhet/comp because there were two rhet/comp sessions scheduled at the same time (the WPA and (Multi)Media session and The States of American Writing session). Is the MLA hostile to Medieval Studies because they scheduled sessions on Troilus and Criseyde, Literary Representations of Historical Women, and Dante at the same time? I know a number of people who would have a difficult time choosing from those three, especially some medieval feminist scholars.


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