Final MLA Musings

Bev of the fabulous head scarves learned much at the 2009 MLA; and Flavia (who immediately mapped the two very important “b’s” (book exhibit and bar) ponders the social meet ups that are a big part of the MLA.  

What did I learn?

  • I learned that when one hangs out with friends from graduate school, that it’s a bit too easy to revert to the fabulousness of being 20-something.  Of course, since it’s the MLA, such fabulousness is limited to drinking just a wee too much (the MLA signature drink this year, the “125”: prosecco, a splash of Canton Ginger liqeuor, and a twist of candied ginger) and enjoying some harmless flirting.  But that’s it. As the old story goes, “All [MLA-ers] do is talk. Never saw so much talking, so much drinking, and so little screwing in all my life.” ***
  • I learned that I definitely prefer sessions where the presenters are lively and passionate (whether or not they read from their papers is almost irrelevant), and that workshops where I can be actively engaged are very rewarding  (I can’t wait for more of those next year).
  • I learned that on the last day of the convention, everyone, everyone, looks damned tired. It’s not a good day to plan breakfast or lunch dates. It’s probably not a great day to have a session. It’s not at all a good day to have a craving for Starbucks  [note: I did finally get my pumpkin latte around 3pm today at a Starbucks that was NOT in the Marriott).
  • I learned that walking the mile to the Rodin and Philly Art Museums on a very cold, windy day feels like 5 miles. But I enjoyed my visits to both museums, despite the missing “Thinker” (seems he is being cleaned up) at the Rodin.
  • I learned that I need to just plan on shipping stuff back at an MLA in a world where checking luggage is now expensive and, with a 3-plane trip ahead of me, any checked luggage may not even make it.
  • Finally, I learned that I still enjoy the MLA: the trick is to find ways to make it feel more like a smaller conference (going to related sessions was very helpful since I saw some of the same people and always had someone to chat with–that’s ONE strategy)  rather than the big, intimidating controlled chaos it can often feel like.

*** [The quote comes from a 2007 anonymous blogger who immediately contradicts the old story, as does a recent InsideHigherEd, blurb].

6 responses to “Final MLA Musings

  1. Great to meet you, AE–but sorry we didn’t have more of a chance to chat! Next time, I hope. And until then, I’ll see you on the interwebs.

  2. Ditto, Flavia! I love having a true image of you now! I’m thinking chatting will continue on the blogs, right? And I’ll be in L.A. next year: perhaps that meet up will be outside by the palm trees?

  3. There are definitely some fabulous perks that come with being 40 something (and no doubt each decade after that, too, right?) rather than 20 something for sure, including the economic ability to eat and drink quite well–if my receipts are accurate–at the MLA!

  4. Hey, I wonder if we crossed paths at the Philly Museum of Art? I didn’t brave the Rodin museum because it was so *freaking* cold — but thought the art museum was amazing. I spent 3 hours and never even made it to the second floor! My favorite thing was the gunpowder art/golden boat installation by the Chinese artist whose name I can’t remember.

  5. Hi BS Girl: Let’s see–I stopped at Whole Foods for a quick lunch before the Rodin Museum (a small but impressive museum) so that was probably around 12ish or so. I was at the Museum of Art on Wed (Dec 30) probably by 1:30 for about 2 1/2 hours so if you were there then, we shared airspace!

    I just loved the modernists, and the Gorky exhibit was wonderful (though so odd to put his contemporaries and students in a separate gallery—that confused me at first). And the room of Armor was a hoot! I did make it to the 2nd floor, but yes, spent most of my time on the first.

    What surprised me about the gift shop is the obvious extinction of museum gift shop post cards! Did you notice that?

    YES, it WAS cold. That wind in Philly is brutal.

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