So! This weekend I took a break from regular old blogging and did some live-blogging of a conference that I attended.
I’d never live-blogged anything before, so between that and the fact that I was presenting my first unsupervised paper at my first non-womens-studies conference, I was SO NERVOUS.
However, it turned out that having to liveblog the event totally fixed my nerves. Since I had to be SO engaged with what the speakers were saying by listening, processing, and figuring out what was important to transmit to our readers, and then typing it quickly enough to catch the next point, I didn’t really have time to worry about my presentation. Plus, I think that I got a lot more out of the talks than I would have otherwise; I have a really hard time following talks or lectures just by listening, so having to write about them as they were happening was kind of like taking notes. Finally, liveblogging the event made me feel much more involved in the conference itself.
In the first session, I was responsible for a panel on potency and impotence. One of the exhilarating aspects of this conference was the way that poetry, performance, and academia worked together to create some really interesting commentary on sex and power, and to raise some interesting questions. The interdisciplinality of it made for some great conversations and perspectives. Eleanor Perry read from her work Venusberg. The audience seemed to find it both humorous (in a “yup, I recognize that” kind of way) and powerful – a really fantastic combination! Then Joanna Linsley discussed the idea of potential, suggesting that the importance of potential lies not just in what could happen, but in what could not-happen. Finally, Dr. R Justin Hunt reflected on his experiences in the archives as he researched John Sex, an NYC performer in the 1980s.
I didn’t realize that I’d be blogging more than one session – the second session that I blogged about was about the division of porn and its audiences. I know very little about the various debates and issues surrounding porn, besides the very obvious, and even less about porn itself, so I was nervous but looking forward to learning! The first speaker, Bethan Jones, discussed ways in which fan studies could usefully inform studies of porn and its audiences. The second speakers, Helen Hester and Sarah Harman, talked about animated porn GIFs (when I brought these up at a party last night, apparently EVERYONE else there had already heard of them – Sarah and Helen’s talk was the first time I had!) and their implications. Finally, Nick Kilby discussed his explorations in the democratization of porn.
I also blogged on the afternoon readings. It’s kind of hard to live-blog a reading – do you summarize what’s going on? Catalog your reactions? Anyway, we heard an excerpt from a novel that Season Butler is working on as part of her PhD; the excerpt was a scene in which the reader is privy to the thoughts in a teen girl’s head as she has sex with a boy. I was really impressed with the way that Butler captured the kind of random stream of consciousness that can happen when you’re having sex – from my perspective, it seemed like a very honest portrayal! Then Blake Morrison read some really great poems, many inspired by / engaging with Ovid. One of the other attendees also blogged the afternoon sessions, including those readings, my panel, and the keynote speaker.
After lunch, it was time for my panel. I discussed Sinead O’Connor’s open letter to Miley Cyrus last year. I may try to turn that presentation into a blog post, or at least address some of the issues that I talked about. The second presenter in our panel, Rachel Long, read a gorgeous poem about a relationship between student and professor. The ambiguities, longing, and pain that she expressed were beautifully crafted. Finally, Khary Polk read a paper about the function of rumors within the African-American community, particularly rumors that Malcolm X, in the 1940s, had had sex with white men for money. Dr. Polk is an incredible speaker!
For the last talk, we got to listen to Michele Roberts speak on sex, reading, and writing; she is a delight!
I left the conference after that; apparently I missed an awesome performance of the Butch Monologues! I also skipped the closing events at a nearby pub (would have been too much for li’l old introvert me!), but I hope everyone had fun!