Sunday, December 27th, 2009...8:25 pm

Blogging MLA: Day One

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TheLongView began two years ago this week (thanks to my brother Jim Long‘s birthday gift to me of the domain name and a  Christmas gift later in the year of the Web server and blog design and setup) with my blogging on the Modern Language Association‘s annual meeting in Chicago in 2007.

So like salmon we return annually to the intellectual spawning ground from around North America and other parts of the world.

Having visited my family in Maryland for the Christmas holiday, I traveled north today from DC to Philly via Amtrak. I was fortunate to find a seat and luggage space and a congenial seatmate, a retired lawyer from Connecticut’s Ernst & Young who has retired with his wife to Williamsburg, Virginia, but was taking the train to New Jersey to visit a son, who is a train engineer. His son’s childhood passion for trains never abated, so he is successful at something he loves to do. A very fortunate man.

Between Wilmington and Philadelphia, I spotted Dr. Robert Scholnick (founding director of American Studies, College of William & Mary) walking down the aisle, so we chatted for a while until he, his wife Sylvia and I got off in Philly. Bob and I share some mutual interests in medical humanities, and he has also been a mentor and career coach for me. Bob is presenting a paper later this evening at a session I will attend.

Got settled into my room at the Loews Hotel, a high camp art-deco lodging, whose structure began its life as a banking and financial services building.

Attended a session on using anthologies in American literature courses, which included my UConn colleague Sharon Harris, the new director of the Humanities Institute. Interesting for its discussion of using free on-line or other digital texts, the cultural politics of anthology selections, and the now exorbitant economics of paying for permission to use selections in anthologies. Met Paul Lauter, a hero to teachers in American studies, the lead editor of the Heath Anthology of American Literature that I have used for many years. Lauter and colleagues at Trinity College (Hartford, CT) will be hosting a conference on anthologies later in the spring, where I will present a paper on nineteenth-century friendship albums as self-composed manuscript anthologies.

Took an early dinner. To warm the heart, a Crown Royal Manhattan. Main course of roasted half chicken, diced potatoes in cream sauce, roasted tomato, and asparagus, with a glass of champagne. (Governor Rell: I am paying for most of this conference out of pocket!) Finished off with a bracing cappuccino. Waitress asks how the meal is; I reply, Honey, if it were any better, I’d have to shoot myself. A stroll about the city hall square, the city hall bell sonorously tolling the hour.

Now off to a late evening session.

Later:

Attended the panel session on which Bob Scholnick spoke, Print Culture in Nineteenth-Century Imperial Contexts, which also included papers by Victor Goldgel-Carballo and Sheshalatha Reddy. I was struck by echoes of early twenty-first century anxieties about digital textuality (particularly World-Wide Web and other on-line documents and discourses) with analogous new technologies of publication in the early twentieth and early nineteenth centuries.

Also attending the session was College of William & Mary PhD grad, John Miller (mentored by Bob Scholnick), who taught as an adjunct in the English Department at Thomas Nelson Community College when I was there and who is now at Longwood University.

As it is now nearly the eleventh hour . . . so to bed.

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