Or click on the SFF/Classics Conference 2013 tag.
This is the seventh part of a multi-part conference write-up.
We reconvened after the coffee break, and once again I was a) torn and b) jonesing for Caffeinated Syrup. (Coffee is not for me. And I am trying to break the bad habit.) Partly at random, partly because Katherine Buse had told me her paper would include mention of Minoans, I went to “Alternate Histories and Present-Day Politics,” chaired by Glyn Morgan (University of Liverpool), and featuring papers by Katherine Buse (University of Cambridge), Richard Howard (Trinity College Dublin – but, alas, the English Dept, so I knew him not) and Jim Clarke (Trinity College Dublin – but likewise).
Katherine Buse began her paper, “‘Frightened animals snarling over water rights’: Narrating History at the Edge of Nature/Culture,” by asking if anyone present personally knew Morgan Llewelyn, about whose book Elementals she would be speaking – because she had little that was complimentary to say about the novel.
One of the questions she wanted to address was, “What are we doing when we do history?” Llewelyn’s novel has Minoans and Gaian mysticism. Do we take history as lessons or see history as a narrative of cohering communities? Climate change narratives. Conflating narratives. (My notes make little sense.)
Unfortunately for this paper, Buse – who I met and spoke with elsewhere about the conference, and who struck me as having interesting research and being generally on the ball – gave a very scattered paper, which did not succeed in unifying its arguments into a coherent whole. Additionally, it ran out of time.
For me, I think my main concern with this paper (scattered time-keeping issues aside) is that it did not engage with the ancient Aegean element at anything but a surface level. Buse is not coming out of an ancient-history background and could, I think, have stood to delve more into Llewelyn’s engagement with the ancient world – which means putting the engagement firmly in context.
(I suspect more practice giving presentations would’ve solved the majority of the issues with this paper, though.)
I stayed long enough to see Richard Howard’s paper (“Rome as the Underground Self of the Irish Free State in Joseph O’Neill’s Land Under England“) begin, but the Waterhouse Room was very stuffy at this point, and I was feeling solidly weird. So I stepped out, and after recovering myself a little, set out again in search of caffeine.
The walk outside refreshed me, and this time I found a Tesco, where I made off with some Coca-cola. Dear English friends: those automatic checkout things are just plain weird and I disapprove strongly, just so’s you know.
When I returned to the conference centre, it was a little short of lunch, and I think I spent some time talking with an interesting person or two. It may have been Cat Wilson? I should have taken notes outside the sessions, I’m realising now.
Lunch was beef bourguignon and roast potatoes and vegetables, with sandwiches and fruit also on offer. More talking to ALL THE INTERESTING PEOPLE. About things I wish I’d taken notes on, so I could remember now.
And then back to the sessions, but since I need to be kind to my typing wrists that’s all the write-up for right now.