Conference Bound!

I leave tomorrow at a ridiculous time for a conference in Vancouver. This is the first conference I’ve done in a while — I’ve been focusing on finishing revisions on my book project so conferencing has seemed like a little bit of a distraction rather than an aid at this point. This makes me slightly nervous about being off my conference game. As A-Dubs’ noted earlier this week, we academics can be a weird lot when we have to socialize in a professional setting. Conferences can be this great space where you get to talk about what you’re most engaged in intellectually and meet great colleagues who share your interests. But they can also feel like a junior high dance where all the cool kids hang out together — and if you don’t have an in, it’s hanging out alone time (also, don’t get me or A-Dubs started on the gender politics of some of these conferences. Gah.).
Cardigan: Gap
White, ruffly shirt: Joe
Pants: NY & Co.
Shoes: Nine West
Brown ring: gifted from my sister
Luckily, for this conference, a current colleague of mine and two of the students from my fall grad course are going. It’s nice to have a small cohort of people you know at these things. And, more importantly, I’m staying with two grad school friends. I’m pretty sure things are going to get awesome.

Also, on a totally unrelated note (and mostly in reference to a conversation I had with A-Dubs), here’s a photo of the dresser I re-painted over Spring Break. It looks more coral, and less orange in person (I also want to replace the knobs but haven’t gotten around to doing so). It used to be a beat-up dark purple and birch.

Dresser: Ikea Robin
Any suggestions for avoiding the conference awkwardness?

25 thoughts on “Conference Bound!

  1. Although I'm late to this post, I do have a piece of advice for conferences. I go to two major ones (educational research and medical education) and I found that, in addition to having a posse and staying with friends, I also recommend volunteering for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. It is amazing how many people you will get to know, and how quickly you will become part of a network, if you volunteer to chair this session, review that session, become a secretary for a sub-division, join a committee – anything! Some of the committee and conference roles are plum roles and of course those tend to be the ones where's it all about who you know – but many other of the jobs are grunt work that people are happy to hand off to someone else, and it's a great way to meet people. I've served on only two committees – one to increase graduate student participation and one to increase membership in a sub-division – but just those two roles probably exposed me to an additional 50 people I might not have otherwise met.

  2. I love this look. This is how I would dress all the time if I could. I just love that it's stylish but comfortable, not fussy. You look fantastic!And booyah for the awesome dresser!!

  3. I find myself hanging out a lot by myself at conferences until I run into folks I already know. I am not very good at the networking with new people process. I need to correct that. Part of the issue recently was the last conference I visited was an interdisciplinary one, so I really felt like I should have an "in" before I make new friends. Your outfit is perfectly conference appropriate! I like how the ruffle adds visual interest! I also love the revamped dresser.

  4. How was your conference? I just got back from one (in Chicago) this weekend. I try to deal with awkward by being friendly and feeling sorry for anyone who makes "the discipline" their life, plus hanging out with friends, enjoying the city, and seeing old advisors and grad student buddies. This past month in Montreal, I was advised to talk with fellow panelists and to introduce myself to people whom I've read and would want to read my stuff. Of course, it was almost all dudes. Talk about weirdo gender dynamics (luckily, everyone was very nice.)

  5. Woman, you keep reminding me with your posts that I need casual/dressy pants. This ensemble is awesome. Is it conference bound with you? Also, that dresser is great. Why do we not live within casual visitation distance so I can check out your mad home-decorating skillz?Finally, have a wicked time this weekend. I have no suggestions, but I feel your conference pain/angst. Also (x2), I. Am. Jealous.

  6. One of my advisors told me that in the early/mid-90s there were two plenaries going on at the same time at an important national conference. Literally, "the boys" were all in the new historicism room and all "the girls" were attending the psycho-analytic one. Guess which one was understood to be more rigorous?

  7. You have friends and acquaintances at the conference! You'll be fine. I despise the loneliness of conferences and avoid ones where I don't know people. That's also because I was advised to pick 2-4 conferences that I will go to regularly and indefinately and so I run into people from past panels, bar talks, and seminars. Networking is so much easier when someone can introduce you to someone else. Or, if you have a friend or colleague that is just great at making conversation with EVERYONE.

  8. Ooh, I like the ruffles on this top! Also, nice dresser painting! Can you help me decorate my new place this summer?I have absolutely no conference tips, since I don't ever get to travel or attend them. Ever. Although, I don't think I'd want to be in a room full of people who actually understand my job anyway. It could get really boring really fast.

  9. I think it doesn't help that many academics are solitary types to begin with — we're all disoriented by the time with other people! I think the solution is, irritatingly enough, time — it seems like once you start to have a geographically spread out group of academic friends who go to the same conferences, things start to get good.

  10. Crazy! I'll keep my eye out for you! I'm looking forward to Vancouver — my sister used to live there but, since she's moved, I haven't been there in a while.

  11. Dude, I know what you mean about the time. I sort of feel like I can't afford the time right now either… But those concerns are going to dissipate, I hope, once I'm there.

  12. Here's hoping about the smarty-pants brilliance… I'm actually presenting new-ish material which is woefully undercooked but hopefully I'll get some useful suggestions & feedback here.

  13. Thanks! I agree about the small posse being key. I love these pants — they're like yoga pants but professional! Also, thanks about the dresser. I'm really happy with it — and especially since I painted it, rather than buying a new one! Yay! Environmental!

  14. You're probably right about conferences in general — there's something about a large group of people getting together that seems to bring out the high school-style interactions. In terms of the gender politics, it basically boils down to a lot of "men do important & politically engaged theoretical work" and "women do silly stuff about novels." This is over generalizing but I've run into this a number of times; the idea that because I talk about novels, I'm necessarily less serious a scholar (that these are all from people who teach or study in English departments is RIDIC). It gets a little exhausting to keep encountering this same pattern. To be clear, this has been my experience — other areas & disciplines (I study contemporary transnational fiction) probably encounter different kinds of situations.

  15. I wish I could! But my sprained ankle is still bothering me, so I'll be sticking close the conference venue (though this is two blocks off Robson — so it could be much worse!). This will have the side effect of saving me money I shouldn't spend!

  16. Actually get into the gender politics of those conferences… seems interesting. An achedemic conference sounds like a blogger conference or maybe it just sounds like a conference in general. Suddenly it's highschool again…

  17. Good luck with the conference – I think going with a small posse is the best bet when it comes to these sorts of things. I really like your ensemble here, the pants are fab. I love your painted dresser – well done!

  18. Nice DIY. Also, I'm jealous. My students are at RECOMB in Vancouver right now, but I couldn't afford the time to go with them right after the other conference.

  19. I'm leaving on Friday at a ridiculous time to go to Vancouver! But not for a conference, just for a visit. Who knows, perhaps we'll pass each other on the street…

  20. Having a posse and staying with friends are the two things that virtually guarantee a good conference for me. Giving a paper helps too. Inevitably, when none of those things is happening, I feel like the last one picked for teams in gym class. I would love to find a solution to this, but it hasn't happened yet.

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