Conference report: Congress 2012


Well, I have been neglecting you, and I apologize for that. I have been away (a big fat Greek wedding celebration in Thessaloniki—opa!). And as soon as I returned home there was/is Congress. My involvement ended yesterday, so here I am again, your humble English department scribe/blogger. At least for another day.

Congress is such a big deal. Thousands of academics come to our community to discuss, to debate, to think, and to network. Ideas are everywhere, not just at the Big Thinker lectures but also in the small panel sessions hosted by dozens of academic associations in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. There’s always a good deal of socializing associated with these large gatherings of academics (who have been known to enjoy a good party, certainly a good meal). But the important stuff happens in those classrooms and lecture halls that have temporarily been turned into conference presentation sites. Through those conference papers ideas are shared, questions emerge, and contacts are established.

Personally I gave two papers, ran a panel, and chaired another. What came out of this for me are two exciting developments: a decision to co-author a paper with a colleague at York who is also interested in research on mothers’ stories of WWII, and an agreement in principle to co-edit a book on Canadian graphic life writing. How cool is that!

Many members of the English department were involved in Congress. I blogged about some of our graduate students and faculty who were presenting before the event, but there was much more going on. Of course, I don’t know about everyone’s activities, but I did take note of the following.

We are all so proud of Professor Neil Randall, who has won a whopping big pile of money to research the effects of digital gaming. Wow! Here’s the press release. This is the biggest SSHRC grant ever received by uWaterloo researcher. The grant was announced on the first day of Congress, shining a bright spotlight squarely on uW English.

Professor Andrew McMurry is one of the Arts researchers profiled in video clips that have been playing online throughout Congress.

So is Professor Marcel O’Gorman. Please click the link to watch the video (for some reason I can’t embed this video properly).

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The Critical Media Lab is on-site at WLU for the duration of Congress—in a truck near the beer tent.

Professors Winfried Siemerling and Kenneth Graham both gave papers and were mentioned in the Daily Bulletin. And I know that many others among our colleagues gave papers at various associations such as ACCUTE, ACQL/ALCQ, CATR, CACLALS, SDH, CCA…and more.

As befits a progressive 21st century university (well, two progressive universities) organizers and participants are using social media A LOT. Twitter, FaceBook, as well as live streaming of videos of the Big Thinker talks, for example, all make for a rich multimedia experience. You can watch videos of the Big Thinker lectures from this website (updated regularly). Or you can link from the Congress website.

But, you know, there’s nothing like being in the room when Margaret Atwood enters it! And there’s nothing like sitting across a lunch table with a new academic collaborator hashing out a project.

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2 responses to “Conference report: Congress 2012

  1. Gord Higginson

    I hope the readers were able to get Atwood books signed by her at her Congress showing on Tues. I was fortunate to get a copy of Survival signed by her!

  2. Gord Higginson

    Anyone who was able to acquire a signed Atwood book may want to hold on to it. I recently saw an autographed copy of her second book, The Edible Woman, going for $1245!

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