Penn State, Day 3

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Tuesday began with my own session, featuring first me, then Dan, then John. My paper wasn't the worst paper in the world, apparently. I'd share it here, but it would require me to retype almost half of it, and I haven't decided whether that's something I want to do. It's a slight re-focusing of the essay I've been working on for CCC, revised to include a little more Burke than I did originally. I wrote probably about half of it from scratch (twice--ugh.), and learned a little more about what I need to do with that essay. So that was good.

I don't really take notes during my panels, because I'm usually too keyed up. On Tuesday, given my lack of sleep, being keyed up basically counteracted my exhaustion, leaving me awake. Dan and John were both very good. As I've mentioned to a couple of people, I often feel like my own work is a little thin conceptually next to them, but then I remember that pretty much most of the rest of my field would feel that way (if not moreso) on a panel with them, and then I don't feel so bad.

The highlight of the panel for me was during Q&A, as Robert Wess was asking John a question. Most people didn't see this, as they were watching him, but John was taking a drink just as Wess suggested that he go back and read more Burke, leading to the most spectacular spit-take I've ever witnessed at an academic conference. Bad news was that I was right in the path of the spectacle. Still, pretty funny stuff.

We skipped the next session (surprise!), and hooked up with the conference again over lunch. Having gotten a little more sleep, food and I weren't mortal enemies, and so I actually ate a real lunch and listened to the session, which involved the officers of the Kenneth Burke journal urge us to submit and support their efforts. It was a little creepy at times, as they referred to Burke variously as our hero, our guru, our world-class genius, etc. I must admit, too, that the idea of keeping track of the activities of his children and grand-children strikes me as a little off as well.

I'm a little torn, because I'm often seen in my program as one of the people who really advocates for our students to read more Burke than they do, but in the face of many of these people, I was almost certainly an outsider. There's a weird vibe of hero-worship that it's hard for me to feel comfortable around, and it surfaced every once in a while, including this session.

Anyways. Believe it or not, I actually went to the final session. But with food in my belly, the inevitable crash after the adrenalin spike that accompanies every time I speak, and the fact that I hadn't slept much for three nights running, I didn't take great notes, or really do much else than struggle to stay awake during the final session I attended. One thing I'll note, and that's that Debra Journet's paper, on W.D.Hamilton's original work on selfish/altruistic genes, was by far the best application of Burke that I saw all conference. Not everyone was "applying" Burke, so there were other presentations of different sorts that were equally good, but she did a really nice job of using the pentad to open up Hamilton's work and identifying it as a moment of productive ambiguity. I'm not doing it justice, but it was really strong. If I feel like I can do it without sounding too critical or shrill, I'll talk later and try and get at this a little more.

That night was a porch party at Jeff Nealon's, featuring a nice spread, 7 hours of covers, a lot of good conversation (including a moment or two of heated debate). I have a few pix from that to post, and not much more to say just yet. We were there until around 3:30 in the morning, I think.

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This page contains a single entry by cgbrooke published on July 12, 2005 1:57 PM.

Penn State, Day 2 was the previous entry in this blog.

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