Tag Archives: Conferences

Could Anyone Not On the Bus Please Raise Their Hand: A Guide To Conference Fieldtrips

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s that time of year when academics can grab a break from their endless PowerPoint slides, passive-aggressive question sessions and lunch breaks with suspicious fish-based sandwiches, and instead be permitted into the real world to point at things in a somewhat organised manner. Like a school trip, bus loads of academics are driven from the lecture hall to archaeological sites, great buildings and art galleries, with a burning determination to show everyone around them that they absolutely ooze theory, methodology and object-based knowledge from every gland! Things can get pretty heated as they tear into poor display, conservation and interpretation; so here’s a few situations I have identified that you can be ready for!

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P2000537Everyone will look at an interesting piece of medieval sculpture for a bit, then someone will realise it is a Victorian replica and the group will die a little inside

Well… it’s a very good pastiche


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Seizing the opportunity, one eminent delegate will speak inside a building to the extent that they basically recite the entire manuscript for the book about it that they have never got round to writing

He’s been going for at least 35 minutes now, isn’t the wine reception supposed to be at six??

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P2060052Instead of looking at a building, people will gather round a small model of it made by secondary-school children in the 1950s  and criticise its numerous inaccuracies

Of course, the layout of the monastic complex is conjectural to say the least; and that tracery of the infirmary is ludicrous for the documented date

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIf a number of scholars are invited to climb part of a stair-turret, they will ignore instructions where to exit it and proceed to ascend to the very top as if they might glimpse the court of heaven with God enthroned with His angels in splendour, when actually all they will find is a roof-space filled with asbestos

Now this just doesn’t seem safe, maybe I ought to go back down and not mention this

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P2020195One conference delegate will criticise the liturgical arrangement of a church building but absolutely no one else will care

Look at the state of those riddel-posts
They look like drainpipes


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P1560077There will be a significant digression about the appropriateness of light fittings

All 1960s, of course


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P1240071Two insane people will look at something utterly insignificant as if it is the most exciting thing in all of creation

Is that..?

I think it is…!

A PLINTHERFACE


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13625143_10100333691940530_1400530738_nEven though every group is supposed to see the same things in a rota, people will hide the coloured sticker on their name badge and go with whatever group they feel like because they really don’t believe this is possible

Balls to that Anglo-Saxon tun, I’m going to the lady chapel roofspace first


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P1770506Someone will be told by a guard not to get too close to an object when pointing at it and have their authoritative ego scarred for the rest of the visit

I wasn’t even that close… and it’s glazed anyway so I don’t know what their problem was frankly

 


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P1630331An amateur guardian of a building will deliver an extended Ladybird book version of its history to an assembled congregation of eminent scholars who know more about it than anyone else on the planet, but everyone will be too polite to tell them to stop

And we have three windows at the east end, which symbolise the 3 at the beginning of our village dialling code

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIt will rain and people will make interminable jokes about the “English summer”

Even if the conference is abroad

Typical!

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13816950014_3797aa884f_b[1]You will be stuck between two people discussing the differences between Purbeck marble and other types of fossiliferous limestone which is interesting for the first ten minutes but then you realise decorum means you have no escape

In the en-delit shafting in the triforium? That’s blue lilas, surely

 

 


STAINED GLASS ATTITUDES WILL RETURN

With more wonky arches

soon

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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)



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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



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haveyoureadHave you read…

You haven’t read…



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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



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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



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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



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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



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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



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

THAT WAS SO SO SO WRONG WRONG WRONG


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