MLA Day One (for me)

My flight arrived at 11:15 on Monday. After taking the train into town, I walked around trying to understand where everything is.

I went to meetings that started in the hours of 1, 3, 5, and 7, with a short run back to my hotel to eat instant oatmeal so I could stay awake.

Heard some good talks. In fact, I haven’t heard anything that wasn’t well done. NEH should have held questions till the end, but that’s a failing newbie conference goers make.

Early modern women’s manuscripts was on FIRE. Made me want to go read a miscellanie or devotional book right now and write about it tomorrow. First of all, Susan Felcher raised the bar on handouts to the ceiling. Unless you brought in gold bars or original books, she beat you. We got color photographs and scrolls! She gave me a copy of her paper and I will be reading it and her book and commenting on those. (Come back for more later.) Jamie Goodrich was fascinating in explaining why all the experts are wrong. And I believe her. (And you should ask her why Google is your friend. Prepare to be amazed.) And Michelle DiMeo was excellent in her argument on the same topic, but for a different author. I believe her too. This stuff was incredible.

The Scottish playwright Liz Lochead was a blast. I want to purchase her drama Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off. (Didn’t yall do jump rope to that?) I vaguely remember that. I was not the jump rope queen. I also want to find her dual language poem in Scots and English for nine year olds. Amazing phrasing.

“it wis January / and a gey dreich day / the first day Ah went to the school” This poem in Scots and English by Liz Lochhead appears in the most recent collection of her poems: The Colour of Black & White: poems 1984-2003 (Polygon, 2003), and in The Smoky Smirr o Rain: a Scots Anthology (Itchy Coo, 2003).

So says The Scottish Poetry Library.

Finally I heard the Old English panel.

Thomas D. Hill of Cornell argued for the gwyrda being a staff of power, as opposed to a cross or a rune stick. I think his argument makes a lot of sense.

Thomas Bredehoft did an interesting take on the Frank’s Casket. While I don’t totally believe him, I think he is on to something.

Robert Epstein had an interesting discussion on gifts and commodities, especially as those impact the exchange of Hildeburh in Beowulf. I think he made an interesting point, but perhaps did not go far enough. The naysayer in the crowd thinks he had no point. And one person was wondering if his point didn’t make things worse for women. … But what no one said is that Hildeburh had agency for herself and for her peoples. She could command her son be laid on her brother’s funeral pier. In her, and in her son, were mixed the two peoples. She could mix them again in death. That’s some pretty powerful agency.

Absolutely everything was great.

The only problem is I am giving a talk tomorrow and it is not that astounding. I think I make some good points, but they are nothing new. They don’t stand the scholarship on its head like all the early modern women’s manuscript papers. They don’t offer a totally new interpretation like the Thomases in OE. They aren’t hysterically riveting like Liz Lochead’s work… All I do is offer four tested measures for getting students to talk to each other across the wall of generations. But, I guess, if you are a teacher and you want some practical advise, coming to my talk tomorrow will give it to you.

I personally feel that my presentation on Wednesday is ground breaking and riveting. I guess we’ll find out on Wednesday.

Heather Ostman’s presentation will be phenomenal too.

I will identify areas for faculty development as well as possible assessment policy changes in community college writing program administration to make broader points about emotional intelligence and consciousness of hierarchical relationships within the academic setting.

Yall should come hear us.

One thought on “MLA Day One (for me)”

  1. Dr. Davis,
    Just a note to say I have not stopped thinking about your paper on rape, trauma, and the writing classroom. There was much you pointed out that seemed obvious to me only after you’d emphasized things, things that have been in front of me, but that I had not recognized as possible effects of traumatic experience. I’m thinking here in terms of silence of particular students and other behavioral indicators. Thanks so much.

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