23 March 2018

The Vistas of Philadelphia: NCSA 2018

Last year, when I went to the Nineteenth-Century Studies Association annual conference, I blogged, "It was my first time going to that conference, and my first time going to any conference in almost a year. Something that I want to change but haven't yet managed is that I almost never repeat conferences-- there are a lot of conferences I've just gone to one meeting of." Well, I finally did it, because I went to NCSA two years in a row!

It was nice. It's a pretty friendly conference, I think, small enough that you run into the same people repeatedly, and the whole thing has a sense of cohesion and coherence. (I was not a fan of the sprawling Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, nor even of the Northeast Modern Language Association, which both feel big and alienating.) It's nice to run into someone you met last year-- they're like, Oh, how are you!? and then you have a person to grab dinner with, even if last year you just had a fifteen-minute conversation with them in the airport! Plus going with some old grad school friends helped, since you were quickly introduced to people they knew, too. Lots of friendly folk about on the whole.

I didn't take many photos...
but I did get one of this book from the
Union League's library.
Opening reception was at the Union League of Philadelphia, which was swank.

NCSA is interdisciplinary, drawing in English studies folks, but also history, languages (especially French for some reason?), architecture, and art. Sometimes this doesn't work, sometimes it does. My paper was on The Time Machine, culminating and polishing thoughts begun on this blog here and here, discussing how the novel refutes our attempts to read a story into the progress of history. Well, one of the other people on my panel was a French graduate student talking about nineteenth-century exhibitions that attempt to read a story into the progress of history! Nice!

NCSA was held in Philadelphia this year. I don't know if it always happens, but it happened both last year and this, that the keynote dealt with the nineteenth-history of the city in which the conference was being held. This year's came from an art professor who's studied the public parks of Philadelphia. It's a great move, establishing the relevance of nineteenth-century studies for the spaces we move in today.

Next year it's in Kansas City. Maybe I can rack up the same conference three years in a row!

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