The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #65: Conferences

General Introduction
– The semester’s eschaton
– Listener feedback

What Is an Academic Conference?
– Annual gathering of learned people
– The make-up of the conference
– Plenary lectures and break-out sessions
– Exploring ideas on the way to publication
– Job interviews

The History of Academic Conferences
– Greek symposia
– The rise of MLA
– From discussion to monologue
– Nathan’s hangover papers
– The Royal Society
– On dreadful plenary speakers
– In praise of Stanley Fish; in attack of Gayatri Spivak
– Institutional inertia

These Are the People in Your Neighborhood Conference
– The Disappearing Plenary Speaker
– The Frantic Graduate Organizer
– The Smokers’ Club
– The Breathless Book-Buyer
– The Walking Sneer
– The Genial Friar
– The Blustering Pedant

Fred Sanders’ Advice
– Write the kind of paper you wish somebody would give
– Try out new ideas

The Christian Humanist Conference
– Interdisciplinary
– Formal and informal symposia
– Rolling-start symposium
– Academic and non-academic constituency
– Middlebrow conversations

How to Survive; How to Win
– Stay away!
– Find the other walking wounded
– Don’t take it too seriously
– Be nice to graduate students
– Ask your faculty adviser
– Cast a wide net

1 thought on “The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #65: Conferences

  1. Gotta agree with the claim that academics go to academic conferences to present their stuff. I also have never attended a conference where I wasn’t presenting anything.

    My tragic conference tale: I was attending an meeting of the International Network for Personal Meaning (yay for existential psychology) a few years ago, and I was thrilled to see that Roy Baumeister was a keynote speaker. RB is one of my professional heroes, so I was enthused. One of the organizers of the conference was an acquaintance of mine, and he asked me to introduce Baumeister. Light beamed down from heaven and Ode to Joy played in the background as I agreed and ran back to my hotel room to prep my introduction. I arrived early to the session and stationed myself strategically near the stage. I kept an eye on the crowd and the time, and was preparing to head up onto the stage to deliver my awesome introduction, when Baumeister walked up to the podium and started speaking… with no introduction. My brush with greatness (I don’t get to have greatness, I just get to brush it) all shot to pieces. A single manly tear trickled down my bearded cheek. I’m still not over it.

    (When the forum thread is up and running, I’ll tell the story of the time I almost got into a fight in a breakout session)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *