One month: three conferences papers and one invited lecture. Suffice it to say that it has been a thrilling but exhausting trans-Atlantic ride.
- The ESS meeting's programming. "Just" a regional conference, you scoff? Well. Besides being twice as big as the national-level BSA conference here in the UK, the quality of the scholarship was outstanding. Talk after talk, even in the regular sessions, left me wanting to grovel in hero-worshiping awe at the presenters' feet. It was inspiring. It made me feel jealous. American sociologists have something great going, and they ought to be proud of it.
- Great keynote speakers. With a bit of luck, they can be found anywhere. Loic Wacquant at the BSA conference was one of the most entertaining academic speakers I've ever seen. And Mel Gibson at the Graphic Novels and Comics Conference had a silly yet fiery style that made me care about a genre of comics I didn't even know existed.
- Getting my work out there. The talks I gave at the ESS and BSA conferences were side projects unrelated to my thesis research, i.e. just ideas I wanted to try out. But the ones given at Mount Holyoke College and at the Graphic Novels and Comics Conference, on the other hand, were based upon already published peer-reviewed research, and I am pleased to report that the reception seemed good. Although I'm by no means the most brilliant public speaker, I know that I'm at least competent and reasonably easy to follow. A reputation of that sort is the best I could ask for.
- New potential opportunities. I met sooooo many people doing fascinating work and received word of still more. Plus, all three of the conferences may have opened up some new publishing opportunities--everything from modest but relatively sure things to awesome, pie-in-the-sky things. Who knows what will actually come to fruition...? I have to believe, barring all else, that doing good work--subtle analysis combined with clarifying insight--will take me the distance.