BAAS 2017: Why It Was Ace

Okay, I’ll be blogging about day one for US Studies Online (coming soon!) but I feel the need to add a few more general remarks, not so much about the academic side of things (important as they might be) but about all those things that one simply can’t cram into a traditional conference review. Here goes, a list of bits and pieces, in no particular order:

  • American Studies people are generally nice people. Though your average academic makes Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory look normal and even sociable, I met lots of lovely people this weekend who were keen to talk about books, eat pizza with me, and generally have a good time.
  • Catering is important. When I organised a small symposium a few years back the main beef was that there weren’t enough biscuits. At Canterbury Christ Church University they serve tiny pastries during coffee breaks. And, somewhat incongruously, giant cookies during lunch breaks.
  • Google Maps is not a good way to navigate a medieval town. When looking for a place to eat my posse and I ended up in the catacombs of Canterbury Cathedral. A great opportunity to fit some sightseeing into our busy schedule, but rather annoying when there’s a pizza waiting for you with your name on it.
  • Discussing unusual subjects is fun. Members of the audience walking into the room where my panel was due to take place frequently asked whether this was the right place for filth and drugs. Positive replies were usually met with a cheerful “excellent!”
  • For whatever reason Kent has a lot of international, if slightly dystopian-looking, train stations. And very fast trains connecting them all. East Anglia, take note.
  • Women are awesome. During the very last session on the very last and very sunny day, almost fifty of them turned up for a networking event. I was struck by the positive energy in the room and, despite having to leave early, volunteered to get involved. Let’s get this done!
  • Re-useable mugs with lids are extremely useful conference merchandise. I filled mine with camomile tea on day one and never looked back.
  • It’s slightly disturbing to discover that Donna Tartt’s The Secret History was published 25 years ago. Am I really this old?
  • Returning home after a three-day conference and a four-hour train journey, only to move straight on to a dub concert to get up to some serious dancing and jumping around, equals both tons of fun and utter exhaustion the next day. Just saying.

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