Thursday, November 18, 2010

MSA 12: notes

There's still no time to post about MSA. Turns out that when you get back from a conference, there's stuff to do. But I have a suspicion I'll never actually have time to post notes before I forget, so here's a quick and dirty version.

1. Friday 11/12. Went to a really excellent panel on "Networks of the Nonhuman." T. Hugh Crawford, whose book on Williams and medicine is great, gave an interesting and pleasantly informal talk on object-oriented ontology, something on which Tim Morton has lately been posting incessantly (in a good way). I can't say I'm on board, but I'm interested.

Met my distant Twitter-friend Scott Selisker and found out that his research on automatism in geopolitical others (such as Communists) is directly relevant to my own. Am now a certified fan.

Lunched with Andrew Goldstone, whom I owed an ACLA proposal. (Yes, I did submit it on time. System: beaten.)

In the afternoon, attended the panel on "Modernism and the Machine" (it was machine day at MSA, I guess). Excellent papers by Amy Woodbury Tease, Michael North (on newness and Norbert Wiener...who, it turns out, had a lot in common with T.S. Eliot), and Mark Goble (with amazing film clips, per usual).

My own panel, with Margaret Ronda and Hillary Gravendyk and chaired by the wonderful Julia Bloch, was also that afternoon. Margaret's paper on Rukeyser and Hillary's paper on Niedecker spoke to one another particularly well. We got excellent questions in that panel and were generally very happy with it.

2. Saturday, 11/13 Attended a packed 8:30 session called "Beyond the Flâneuse: Women in the Modernist City." I particularly enjoyed Anne Fernald's paper on the taxicab as a heterotopia, but all three papers were great.

I attended a panel intriguingly titled "Modernist Failure" with Joshua Schuster, Benjamin Kahan, and Melanie Micir. I could tell there was a bit of a Penn conspiracy going on, but it was a very good panel. I was particularly interested in Benjy Kahan's paper, "The Walk-in Closet," on situational homosexuality.

Being an inveterate institutional gawker, I went to the MSA business lunch, where people were thanked. The book prize was awarded jointly to Enda Duffy and Eric Hayot for, respectively, The Speed Handbook and The Hypothetical Mandarin.

Next year's conference in Buffalo was discussed. The theme is "Structures of Innovation." "Innovation" is of course one of those terms that always sets off my "uncritical thinking!!" radar (DANGER WILL ROBINSON), so I'm contemplating organizing a panel titled "Against Innovation." Email me if interested. Or amused.

Continuing the Penn conspiracy theme, I attended Julia's panel on the "after-affects" of modernism in the afternoon. Julia's paper on Alice Notley and William Carlos Williams was absolutely great. Kaplan Harris's paper introduced me to "new narrative," with which I was relatively (and a little embarrassingly) unfamiliar.

Hillary and I may or may not have availed ourselves of the Fairmont Empress's extreme tea at the end of that panel. If we did, I highly recommend the house blend and the hotel's ability to accommodate food allergies.

All in all, it was a great conference. In addition to the unusual opportunity to hang out with old friends in a lovely city, I had a chance to meet wonderful folks and hear about their exciting research. It was particularly great to meet people whom I knew from their research or online, but had never met in person. Many thanks to Stephen Ross and all the other organizers for putting it together.


Julia Bloch said...

High tea! I knew you 2 had disappeared to somewhere intriguing! Thanks for the rundown, N.

Natalia said...

Your paper was super interesting, J. I'm going to need to have a look at the Notley for my book!