Sunday, January 09, 2011

Random Bullets of MLA 2011: the Fabulous, the Good, and the Okay

First, the fabulous:
  • MLA Gods: Putting MLA in Los Angeles, home of palm trees and sunshine, when lots of us are struggling through an epic winter? Genius.
  • Getting a hotel for us that was way beyond our humble expectations (remember, we're the people who will stay in dorms to save money)? Genius.
  • Also genius: wifi, wifi, everywhere, although I had to get the SuperSecret MLA code for the JW Marriott lobby, which probably wasn't supposed to be secret but that I didn't get, from a kindly fellow MLA person tapping away on his computer.
  • Yes, Virginia, there are kindly fellow MLA people, lots of them. They live in the hearts of academics even when you think that all anyone does is nametag-surf. I even saw people smiling on occasion and being helpful to people that they didn't seem to know, although MLAers usually roam only in packs or herds of the like-minded, for protection. Could the sunshine have been beaming down benevolence rays?
  • Seeing spotlights in the sky and hearing the roar of the crowd at the Staples Center one night. No, it wasn't for a group of MLA bigwigs on the red carpet, but it was still exciting.
  • Excellent panels, of which I want to single out Moose's talk on Thursday night, which was, well, fabulous--funny, organized, and right on point. You can read it at her place, so I won't talk more about it, but everyone loved it. I went to a lot of the "archives" panels, too, which were also excellent. There's a genuine excitement about the new ways we can "do" literary and other kinds of studies, and we heard about a lot of smart and interesting approaches. Don't forget, there's more of this going on today.
  • Lots of good meetings with people and talks with old friends over meals.
  • Seeing more people than I thought I even knew.
The Good:
  • Lots and lots of places to eat close by, if you didn't want to seek out esoteric food.
  • Did I mention the weather?
The Okay:
  • Not a lot of places to get a quick sandwich or bagel, unless you wanted to join the long black-clad lines at Starbucks. Sometimes you just want to eat and get to the next session, but unless you could live on coffee or pastries (both of which I hate), you were out of luck.
  • I have to confess that after a couple of the "hard times" panels, I heard some audience members say, "I can't take another one of these"--"these" being the panels on the grim news of the profession.


Roxie Smith Lindemann said...

Hey, thanks for the kind words about the "New Tools" session and Moose's paper, Undine. Did not realize you -- whoever "you" might be! -- were in the audience. We agree with you that all in all it was a very good MLA. I think the lovely California sunshine must have had something to do with it. Even in Hard Times, it's tough not to smile when you can walk around without a coat on in early January!

Anonymous said...

"join the long black-clad lines at Starbucks" -- can just see it!

Glad it was mostly fabulous, Undine!!!

undine said...

Thanks, Moose and Goose! There was quite a crowd, so I slipped out the back instead of coming up, but it was great.

Ink--and since the lines went out the door, they were standing in the beautiful California sunlight.

Rosemary Feal said...

Loved reading these reflections and knowing what was great, good, and in need of improvement.

The WiFi seemed to make a world of difference. I agree that Moose's presentation rocked the house. And I was flattered that she chose to show one of my MLA LOLCats. Most people see the very serious side of me!

undine said...

Thank you for stopping by, Rosemary Feal! I'd agree about the WiFi, and the location didn't hurt. And yes, it was nice to see your MLA LOLCats picture up there with Historiann's screen shot!