What struck me: a guide to conference questions

Some say the real heroes in our world are those like the police officers who keep us safe, the soldiers who fight for our freedom, or the doctors who keep us in good health. Yes, those guys are great and all, but don’t forget the unsung hero of the academic. As well as having to spend their days wondering how on earth shelfmarks work and curse the fact that you can’t put footnotes to your footnotes; they tirelessly attend conferences where they all gather together to namedrop French philosophers and linguists, their only reward being coffee breaks with often poor-quality biscuits. Of course, the most heated section of any conference are the question and answer sessions, when a paper is open for skewering by an audience of esteemed professors and over-enthusiastic master’s students. To make things easier for these noble paper-giving heroes, here’s a handy guide to what a question’s prefix may indicate as to what’s coming next.

(Because this isn’t the TLS I’ve put some pictures in)


whatstruckmeOne thing that struck me was…

There was one really interesting thing I saw in your slides and I’d rather we talked about that rather than what you actually said


haveyoureadHave you read…

You haven’t read…


grotesques+f.185r[1]This isn’t really a question, more of an observation…

I’m not giving a paper today but I really think I ought to be


grotesques+f.154r[1]Could you speak a bit more about…

You seem to be getting dangerously close to something I’m working on and I have to see if I need be worried


grotesques+f.203v[1]You should take a look at…

I actually know what you’re talking about and I’m going to make sure everyone here sees my mastery of the bibliography


grotesques+f.50r[1]I was thinking during your presentation, about…

I’m going to ramble about nothing in particular for at least eight minutes

grotesques+f.50r+4[1]I just wondered what you thought about – and the other speakers could also answer this – …

I’ve actually remembered what this conference is supposed to be about and I’ll be damned if I don’t make you people actually address it before the wine reception

LP-Monster-6-2[1]I’ll think you’ll find that…


Okay so basically no one can ever ask a question now without looking like a grotesque from the Luttrell Psalter. Sorry about that, everyone.


10 thoughts on “What struck me: a guide to conference questions

  1. la_lasciata

    TOTALLY HILARIOUS !!! – I miss your sense of humour in the loooong months wherein you don’t post, James ! [grin]
    So OK, you do have a doctorate to work on; but couldn’t you find a wee bit more time to keep me amused with your cleverness ? PLEASE?
    (And I shall … not re-blog, because that just fills up my media library … post a referral to this post.)

    1. James Alexander Cameron Post author

      I submitted my PhD yesterday to great triumph on the streets of London (then I went home)

      My viva will be soon and if all goes to plan I will do a handy step-by-step guide on how to get a doctorate!

      1. la_lasciata

        CONGRATULATIONS !!! – well done you !
        Best of luck with the viva – but I doubt you need that.
        Whatever you do, if it doesn’t include a blog of some sort, I shall slash my wrists ! [grin]

  2. Su Leslie

    Brilliant; and so funny. It’s a long time since I’ve been to an academic conference (the lure of big bucks in the filthy world of advertising was much greater than my need to fulfill my mother’s desire for a PhD in the family), but I still recognize most of those opening. Hehe.

  3. Outlier Babe

    Dear Mr. Cameron,

    I beg you most sincerely: Please do NOT listen to Margaret-Rose re: posting more frequently. I was forced to Follow you due to your d#mnable cleverness–I Follow few–and simply do not have the time, frankly, to even stay atop your current witty witticisms, in addition to my other blog-bonds, much less ramp up for an increasing volume of same.

    Thank you. Much appreciated.

    –Miss Outlier

    P.S. Since we are to be blog-bonded from here on out, you may, if you wish, refer to me as “O. Babe”, or even by the more familiar “Babe”. I far prefer either of these to the terms flung at me by those I pass on the street.


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