Archive for August 8th, 2011

Tales from the Conference World

8 August 2011

By Christina Morin

I’m just back from the conference I mentioned in my recommendations for this month and am full of ideas to pursue, books to read, and potential articles to write. In fact, the past month and a half has proven an incredibly exciting time for my research, largely thanks to the stimulating conferences I’ve attended. I may habitually complain about the time conferences consume when travel, paper-writing, and attendance is factored in, but, the fact is, a good conference can be worth weeks of dedicated library time in terms of advancing research goals, introducing new perspectives, and tweaking arguments. It’s not just the act of pulling together a coherent 20-minute paper – as we all know, a pretty spectacular feat in itself – but also the sometimes uncomfortable necessity of introducing yourself to peers from other universities, of making a point of meeting scholars whose work you appreciate, and of generally putting yourself out there as an interested individual engaged in (one hopes!) interesting, related research. In a word – networking.

If I’m attending a well-established conference for the first time, I more often than not find myself suddenly and uncharacteristically shy and socially awkward. This is when the great social lubricant – wine – can come in very handy, and I think the practice of hosting a wine reception on the first evening of a conference a very good idea. Kudos to the person who thought that up! Although it’s a good idea to proceed with caution, especially when you’re a lightweight like me, these receptions afford the perfect opportunity to meet and greet, as, of course, do the many coffee breaks, dinners, social events, and impromptu drinks. Many a fruitful collaboration has been forged in these more informal and therefore, more comfortable, spaces. Read more