“Pulled Veal” and Other Delights: Atlanta, 2007

When it arrived at my table, I knew that I had been warned, but not for this.  “It’s pulled veal, sir,” the waiter had said.  “It doesn’t come out as a whole breast, obviously.  It takes two days to prepare.”  So there was my veal, sitting on a brown and white puddle of something, a perfectly nice breast of veal shredded and reconstituted into a large crabcake-sized medallion, and deep fried so that it had a crust with just a hint of pistachio green.  Veal has a crust? 

I thought, why not just get the waffle-iron and the confectioner’s sugar, and just finish the job?  High-end, high-concept Belgian waffles, made with something that had once been veal, I believe.  But it does take two whole days to prepare.

So life, like ASECS, does hold its share of surprises.  I had a good conference, and met some very nice folks, and saw some others I hadn’t seen in some time.  My evenings with the folks from the Irish Studies Caucus were particularly delightful, not least because they made me forget the veal I’d been served. 

Any conference highlights that people would like to share?  Any papers or panels that you’d like to memorialize here?  Just let us know.

Best wishes,

DM

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2 responses to ““Pulled Veal” and Other Delights: Atlanta, 2007

  1. Hi; I lurk this blog often, and after presenting a paper at ASECS this year, I thought maybe I could pose a question to you. First, I should admit I am one of those creative writing people by default, having taken that route for my MA and will probably do the same for my PhD once I get going (still undecided, but that’s beside the point). However, I love doing scholarly work, particularly 18th Century (it’s so scandalous!), so have always tried to cultivate that interest (and a few others) to avoid being completely sucked into the little bubble world many writing programs can become. Anyway, so I really liked one of the papers I had written, though it kept taking many forms. So, I submitted it, got accepted, and months later there I am. I was told it was going to be a roundtable, so I didn’t walk in the door with a polished, “read me” paper – which was my mistake. I was hoping for an atmosphere a little more relaxed, and a little more open as far as dialogue. I got there, and felt like I was about half the age of the other panelists; combined with the fact that it was my first conference (in 18th Cent.) to even go to, much less present, I was perhaps more intimidated and nervous than I have ever been in my life. I rambled, I stuttered, I didn’t quite connect all the dots in my thesis. That being said, I feel like my topic was interesting and entertaining (I got laughs, which is, of course, my true mission in life), but still … I feel like if I’m not already on a “do not accept” list for future conferences, I should put myself on it. So, though it seems kind of stupid when put so bluntly, I guess my question is if the more experienced and eloquent presenters anticipate sharing panels with the uninitiated – I mean, is such an event also viewed as a place for younger scholars to get hands-on learning experience in entering the critical exchange of scholarship – or is bumbling your way through your first presentation an appalling waste of time for the panels?
    I know it sounds like kind of a dumb question, but I continually find myself unable to gauge where exactly in my own development as a scholar I am, and in turn where in the field I should be looking to gain more experience. Am I wasting people’s time, or am I making use of their generous patience and understanding as I try to get my feet wet in the field? I know you can’t answer that for me personally, but I guess in a broader sense, for the typical John-Doe-MA-student, do you have any wisdom or advice on getting more comfortable with where one is, in terms of “becoming” a scholar? Sorry for the verbosity, but I didn’t simply want to ask “Any advice for a young 18th Cent. scholar?” because it’s much too ominous, and doesn’t seem quite right, in context.

  2. Hi drobbins,

    I wouldn’t work up too much anxiety about a single conference or presentation, especially if you’re just starting out. Different scholars have different expectations of conference presentations and the appropriate style to take, but in general the panel chair should be able to tell whether you were going to do a tightly scripted presentation or something looser, and choose accordingly. But it is always a good idea to be considerate of your audience members.

    Nerves are always an issue, for scholars at every level, unless they are presenting material that they are very familiar with (i.e., written books on or taught repeatedly). In such cases, however, the presenter is not really trying anything new, but simply bringing an established reading in front of a new group of people. Once again, opinions vary whether the presentation should be an experiment or a finished product by the time you do it publicly. But your selfconsciousness probably relates to this issue.

    If you feel that at some level you were not presenting yourself at your best, and this is how it sounds to me, then follow your gut instinct, and put some more time and thought into the next presentation, so that you can feel better about the finished product. You’ll be that much closer to having a publishable essay, and you might get better feedback. And don’t lose any time worrying about a less than ideal presentation from a few months ago.

    Best,

    DM