Sunday, April 08, 2012

Observations from SAA

I had a good time, heard a couple of really interesting papers, and got to see some friends (the best part, to be honest). My seminar was run well and had a good discussion.

I felt like I noticed a few things, and checked with someone else, who thought maybe to one, and yes to the other.

1) People from my generation were there in relatively low numbers compared to the people 10+ years ahead of us, or 10 years behind us. Maybe folks my age are mid-career and what with the holiday and such, didn't come? Or they've moved into administrative stuff? Or we're just in lower numbers?

2) When I first went to SAA, there was a fairly strong and visible group of African American scholars. I saw none of that group, and few African American scholars overall compared to those years. I'm not sure what's happened or happening.

3) Looking over the crowd, it seemed very male, and not only older men. There were several men who looked like they were posing as enfant terrible types, right down to the pony-tail.

4) There was an anime conference going on at the same hotel with the Shakespeare conference, and the two crowds were very different. It was really odd seeing someone in anime costume walk through the Shakespeare crowd. (The Shakespeare crowd, we like to think we're among the edgier folks in the English department, but we looked very staid compared to the anime crowd.) Thus, the enfant terrible men looked like real posers in comparison.

(Do women ever get the cache of being the enfant terrible, with the combination of admiration, exaltation, and admonishment from the good old boys, or does a woman just get the criticism?)

And a related observation: I caught a cold. I could feel it coming on last night, and it's been getting worse. Blah. It's amazing how something relatively as innocuous as a cold can make you feel lousy.

I rode back on the shuttle with a man who was way more revealing of his private life than I was quite comfortable with. And he had that too wide eyed look that some people have.


  1. Anonymous8:28 PM

    You caught "con crud" from the anime folks... Though on second thought academic conferences probably do have an equivalent even if we do generally get more sleep and eat better. (speaks as one who has attended both.. Well not anime, but fantasy/ scifi con)

  2. I've been known to show up in class all dress in black ocassionally, skinny black pants and heels included. I don't do it very often, and I mostly do it when I am annoyed about something (I used to be a punk rocker, I kid you not, purple hair included). I've never gotten any criticism over it, but I guess it is because it blends well with my no BS, but will go the extra mile for her students, teaching persona.

  3. I suspect I picked up the cold virus either during my travels or just before, since I started feeling sickish Saturday evening. And I'm pretty sure I didn't catch it from the anime folks because I wasn't hanging out closely with them the way I was with the Shakespeare folks, though we were all sharing common spaces.

    I wish I could stay home and sleep today.

  4. I, too, noticed that people in mid-career weren't in high attendance. I was really surprised by the number of graduate students. When I was a grad student, I didn't even know the SAA existed. I found myself feeling fairly liminal, as a person new to the tenure-track. I suppose I look young enough to be a grad student, but I'm certainly not. And on the other hand, I'm very new to being a full-time faculty member. So I don't have myself very established at teaching Shakespeare here, yet. I don't know... I felt kind of weirdly unidentifiable. I'm sure it'll be sorted out as the years go on.

    It was really fun meeting you, by the way! One of the highlights of the trip!

  5. Getting to this late, in part because I, too, returned with a cold--and judging by the chatter on Facebook, I'm lucky it wasn't the flu or strep (which various of my friends returned with).

    Interesting observations about generations, which I'd provisionally agree with: I'm probably 10 years younger than you, and did feel that it was skewed toward our age group and younger--with a strong showing by the older guard, of course.

    Sorry we didn't cross paths, but glad you got to see our mutual friend in the city!