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Leeds Reaction 2

19 July, 2011

Went to lunch today with a friend who needs to come to Leeds more so he can talk about Viking-y things (and grace the disco with his presence), and Friend Who Needs a New Pseudonym (so, currently, FWNNP), and told them about it, at their request. It was sort of nice, because it reminded me of some of the highlights and less-than-highlights, so that I can start writing them up. Still unable to say how my own paper went, although FWNNP liked the one report he’d seen. But then, he liked the paper, too, which he read in a less-polished draft.

But other than that, I was able to tell them about the Really Not Fun experience of giving the time signal, then giving it again, and then again, and having the speaker tell me he was finishing — only to go into another section. Good thing the original moderator was not there, is all I can say. But, since you all know how I feel about this, let me just say it again: DO NOT DO THIS. EVER. Not if you are famous, not if you are a post-grad, not if you are in the middle. You are taking time from other people. Also, you really aren’t doing yourself any favors. If you go over by more than about 2 minutes, people stop paying attention, because they are counting. that’s right. You lose your audience. You especially lose the audience if what you are saying is already on a slide in front of them. And, if you are trying to impress, there’s a chance you won’t, because people will remember the behavior more than they will a brilliant (or even weak, I think) paper.

And I told them about the paper that was pretty much all about how one historian had got it wrong, over and over again. That one was really pretty fun. And the clothing papers, which I will say something about. And the really good one in the session before mine, which was well-delivered by someone speaking in a third language, well-constructed, and really just plain interesting.

I got to tell them about the disco, which suffered from poorer musical choices this year than in the past (really? American Pie when people are still sober? or, actually, ever?), and the very nice people who were there and who they would have liked to have seen. And then we had an extended conversation about “Scandinavian” burials in Ireland. Very extended. Is “Scandinavian” indicative of location? or of ethnicity? both? neither? When immigrants do things that commemorate their cultural traditions (but may not actually be those traditions, but things that are sort of blown up beyond recognition), how do we treat that?

And then we talked more about archaeology. Or rather, they did, and I interjected on occasion, because as I told them, I managed to survive a grad seminar where we talked about onion-topped fibulae for over a week, I think, and can vaguely tell the difference between the best-known fibulae (or brooch, if you’d rather) types. I can even read archaeological reports and understand them pretty well. But really? Not so much my thing. On the other hand, it’s nice to have been updated on the whole NO! it’s not that! it’s an SBT! thing, even if it reminds me that I need to read a bit more on the 5th C.

And now, I’m off home tomorrow. Sad to leave the UK, happy to be going home to cats and friends, sad to not be working in the BL, happy that the Nice Librarian has offered to let me work in a nice space over there, so that I don’t have to spend any more time in my department than is necessary. Yes, I think that this year, I will be playing the role of the absentee Department Chair: on campus, available to students and administrators, but not actually in my office unless there are plenty of people around.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 19 July, 2011 7:03 pm

    "When immigrants do things that commemorate their cultural traditions (but may not actually be those traditions, but things that are sort of blown up beyond recognition), how do we treat that?"How do we identify it if it's not actually their tradition? I have heard this one wheeled out so many times by people who want to hang 'Viking' or 'barbarian' labels on things for which there is no prima facie evidence that they are Viking or barbarian. It's possible but it is a pure counter-factual.

  2. 19 July, 2011 8:06 pm

    HEdge, that was indeed what started the discussion! A report by FWNNP about such a paper, which he knew that our friend would certainly jump all over and have a good and entertaining rant.

  3. 20 July, 2011 5:45 pm

    Yon friend is sorely missed and should make sure to turn up next year: they have time to grow their hair out again with this kind of warning, after all! And it was also good to see you, sorry we didn't really have time for a proper chat and that things weren't really timed perfectly. We must sort out Skype! Safe journey home meanwhile.

  4. 20 July, 2011 6:33 pm

    Also, just remember that the disco wasn't as fun because I wasn't there to help the DJ with song selection…

  5. 21 July, 2011 3:17 am

    Matt, I think that is absolutely true! Also, our Glaswegian colleague should have had more input :-)Jon, agreed on all counts, although I don't know that we shall ever see the masses of head-banging hair again. Also discussed at lunch were apposite Hawkwind lyrics, about which I was rather surprised to learn our more senior colleague knew anything, not least that Michael Moorcock had written some of them!

  6. 21 July, 2011 5:31 pm

    But that is, itself, exactly why he knows, isn't it? Moorcock is the gateway drug 🙂 And from then on it's a long downhill slide to bad poetry and six foot naked dancers of both sexes. Don't say I didn't warn him.As for the one without the hair, well, he already knows all about the poetry and naked dancers 🙂

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