Hello, Kingston! Meredith here (now that there are two of us writing this blog, I’m going to identify myself at the top of every post!) — I’m back from New York City and am now desperately scrambling to catch up on everything I left behind for a few days.
For those of you just turning in, I was in New York for the weekend to present at my very first conference. I gave a paper at the Deviant Bodies conference, which was held at Sarah Lawrence College, which is just north of Manhattan, in Bronxville, NY.
I was nervous and excited about the conference going in. Now that it’s over, I’m feeling relief, mixed with a vague sense of feeling let down. Because after the months of anticipation, it all happened so QUICKLY! And although I met a few people (many of them really interesting), I didn’t make as many connections as I think I had imagined being able to make. I’m not complaining: I learned a lot, and was thrilled to be part of the conference. It was just funny to realize that my worrying was kinda silly (though worrying is normal when you have no idea what to expect, right?).
The conference was only a day and a half long, and was surprisingly small. It started off slowly but with great energy. The key note address (though-provoking and engaging) was given by “fat-activist” Marilyn Wann (the author of Fat!So?), followed by an evening of pizza and spoken word by some really interesting poets.
Saturday was the big day. We started the day with a bountiful breakfast buffet at the hotel, and then carried on to the conference for more coffee. The first panel included presentations by three American professors who spoke on everything from fatness as it relates to self-government, ugliness and the American “ugly laws” in place at the turn of the last century, and a really interesting talk on the “sexualized body politics of African American women.” All three speakers were interesting and incredibly engaging.
After lunch, we carried on to a variety of different panels and workshops. If I have a complaint at all, it’s that I wanted to attend everything, and instead had to divide my interests. I opted for a panel discussion on stigma, and another called ‘Body Politics on Film.” I was part of the final set of panels, and was on one called ‘The Price of Beauty’ along with a professor from Temple University (in Philadelphia), a Master’s student from Sarah Lawrence, and an “Independent Scholar” (what people seem to call themselves when they are not affiliated with a single university).
I think, all in all, that things went well. There weren’t quite as many bodies in the audience as I had hoped, and things kind of fizzled out at the end (the conference organizer ran into the room and announced that the last shuttle headed back to the hotels was leaving, and that if we wanted to catch it, we’d best get going).. and that was it! I was a little disappointed that there was no closing talk, and no opportunity for a final bit of networking.
But it was over. I’d done it. No major disasters.
My travelling companion friend and I spent Sunday in New York City where we saw a couple of shows, wandered around the Museum of Modern Art, walked through Central Park, and generally enjoyed ourselves. So all in all, a great weekend. Thanks to everyone who encouraged me!