I spent the past weekend in Birmingham at the 59th annual conference of the British Association for American Studies. My expectations were low, as most people I know who’ve attended a large conference warned me that the atmosphere can be competitive, that very few people may show up to your panel, and that networking with strangers can be massively awkward.
However, it turned out to be a fun and useful experience. My paper was based on research for the chapter I’m currently writing, so I received feedback which I can implement in my work straight away. I also met various people who are working on subjects similar to mine and did the whole networking thing. And there was an interesting key note lecture by Rob Kroes on Django Unchained, which supplied me with some nice insights on genre and American film.
I have to admit that I didn’t immediately like Birmingham as my hotel turned out to be located on the wrong end of the station (meaning: the dodgy, rundown end with boarded-up windows and homeless people and stuff). Despite my martial arts skills New Street Railway Station managed to scare the crap out of me. But the weather was nice, the university campus was lovely, and when you’re spending time with interesting people surroundings don’t matter that much.
Next year’s BAAS conference will be in Newcastle and I’d like to go, if only to see the city again. Right now, however, I’m hammering away at my chapter on vampires, Christianity and vampires. Stay tuned.